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    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 so happy to be here with you today, on Father’s Day Weekend, helping you with your home improvement projects. Are you going to do a project for Dad this weekend? Well, if so, pick up the phone and give us a call. We would love to help you take that all-important first step. 888-666-3974 is the telephone number.

    We’ve got a great show planned. Coming up this hour, do you love to throw open your windows to let in those warm evening breezes this season? Well, if you do, you should also know that those open windows could be presenting a fall hazard to kids that we never had when we were growing up. We’ll tell you why, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Also, there’s nothing as pretty as the look of wood trim, wood decks or even wood furniture, unless you do not take care of it. Then you’re going to end up with a rotting, splintering mess on your hands. We’re going to talk about the easiest way that you can repair or restore or refinish the exterior wood around your house.

    TOM: And also ahead, don’t buy into the cicada hype.

    LESLIE: I’m scared. I’m waiting on them.

    TOM: I’m telling you, there already are some sightings of these in the South. But we’re going to clear up some of the myths about these invading insects and talk about what they can and can’t do to your home and property.

    LESLIE: Oh, forget about your home. I hate when they get caught in your hair. And I used to have 10 million of them getting caught in my hair.

    Alright, guys. Also this hour, one caller is going to get a great Father’s Day gift for that father figure in their life or maybe for yourself. We’re giving away a 204-Piece Mechanics Tool Set from DeWALT. And it’s part of DeWALT’s Father’s Day Gift Guide on MoneyPit.com.

    TOM: It’s worth $240. Going to go out to one caller that reaches us on today’s program. And you know what? There’s nothing that says you have to give it away; you could keep it for yourself. So give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Tyler in South Dakota is on the line who’s got some unwanted visitors in the yard: moles. Have you bitten it more than once in the yard, due to their little hole-digging?

    TYLER: Yes, it’s actually been quite the adventure having those little friendly guys in your yard.

    LESLIE: And they’re so adorable, aren’t they?

    TYLER: Yeah, they are. They’re wonderful.

    So, we’ve been having this problem with moles and I think what this animal is called is called a “vole” – v-o-l-e.

    TOM: Vole. Yeah, very similar to a mole.

    LESLIE: It’s like a mole/hamster.

    TOM: The reason they are there, Tyler, is they’re looking for food. And specifically, they’re looking for grubs.

    TYLER: Oh, that was – I was going to ask you about that, because my backyard has been hit by these dry patches which, I just found out, I think are grubs.

    TOM: Yeah. It all is making sense now, right?

    TYLER: Yeah.

    TOM: Because the grubs are in your lawn, they’re killing your lawn. The moles are probably saving part of your grass, because they’re eating the grubs. But what you need to do is get some grub control at GrubEx on that lawn. And that will get rid of the grubs. And once the grubs are gone and there’s no food left, the moles will move on naturally to your neighbors and try to find where all the grubs are living.

    TYLER: Every six weeks? Every six months? How often do I put down this …?

    TOM: Just follow label directions. And some of these products, you can put down once a season.

    TYLER: Sounds great. Oh, that’s very helpful. I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Tracy in Hawaii who needs some help with a sliding-door situation. What’s going on?

    TRACY: The slider door has got – it’s got grit in it. And I had sprayed it with something. It was on sale. I don’t remember because I got rid of it. But it’s like real – it hardened, whatever it was. And it’s very hard to – I want to know if I can find something to loosen it. And then what should I use on it that won’t harden when I spray it, to make it easy?

    TOM: Well, first of all, what I would do is I would get a really stiff brush and I would try to – I would brush those tracks to try to loosen up all of that gunk that’s there and then get a vacuum to kind of suck it out of there so that you can kind of get the loose dirt out and the junk out of there. And then what I would spray it with is white lithium grease. It comes in a can, just like WD-40, but it’s not; it’s a little thicker and it stays around longer.

    And another thing that you can think about doing is if you can take the door out of the tracks, it makes the whole thing easier. But it’s a bit of a tricky job because – depends on how your door is built. But generally, you can lift it right out of the track. It’ll make the whole thing easier to handle.

    TRACY: OK. That sounds wonderful.

    TOM: Good luck with that project, Tracy. 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 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, open windows could be posing a new danger to kids. We’ll explain why and how to solve the problem, 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: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And you should pick up the phone and call us now at 888-MONEY-PIT. Why? Well, because if you do and you ask your home improvement question, you’re going to get a chance to win a great Father’s Day gift. It’s a 204-Piece Mechanics Tool Set from DeWALT worth $240. Yes, you can gift it to Dad or you can keep it for yourself. Check it out at DeWALT.com.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You’re really going to like them. All of the tools have this great, non-slip grip on the surface. Easy to read numbers so you know exactly what size socket you’re getting. It really is a great tool kit and it’s really just one of the many great gift ideas that are featured on the Father’s Day Gift Guide, which is sponsored by DeWALT. And it’s on MoneyPit.com right now. And you’ve got a little bit of time left but not much. So look at the gift guide today, get a gift for Dad and you’re really just one click away from that perfect gift. And be sure to pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Ann on the line who’s got a ceiling issue. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    ANN: Well, what happened is I have a large living room. At one time, it had been two rooms and they combined it into one.


    ANN: On one of the sections, it has a metal or a tin ceiling. And what I want to do is install a ceiling to match in the other section. I located the manufacturer of the ceiling tile. However, I don’t know who to call to do the installation because they could not provide me with any ideas. So, should I be looking for a sheet-metal person? Should I look for a tinsmith or a …?

    TOM: So you can’t find a tin-ceiling installer in the phone book? Is that what you’re trying to tell us?

    ANN: Right. There’s no one listed.

    TOM: Listen, it’s not a hard project, Linda. It’s really a job for a carpenter. It’s not a difficult project. A carpenter with a little bit of metalworking experience can handle this. And I’m very impressed that you actually found the product because it’s a little tough to find.

    LESLIE: Yeah, exactly what you’re looking for.

    TOM: Yeah.

    ANN: Right.

    TOM: So I would handle – a good carpenter or a good handyman. Really easy job to install that. And so that’s the way I would take it.

    ANN: Oh, thank you ever so much. I really appreciate all your help.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Michael in California on the line who wants to start an A/C debate. Let’s hear it.

    MICHAEL: I had a question with regards to a window unit changing out to a split system and what your feelings are in regards to cost saving.

    TOM: Yeah, Leslie and I both have split-ductless systems in our homes. Now, I have one in my office and I actually have a central air-conditioning system but on this side of the house, in the west side of the house, it gets so much sun that the central A/C can’t keep up with it. And so, as a result, it gets really hot, especially on the super-warm, summer days.

    So I use split-ductless there. It can handle a bigger area than a window unit. It’s going to be quieter than a window unit and it’s actually more energy-efficient than a window unit.

    LESLIE: I mean, Michael, they truly do kick butt. We have one in our basement at home because, apparently, we’re the only house in the Northeast of the United States that has a super-hot basement in the summer. Every other person I know, you go down in their basement it’s freezing; ours, it’s like a sauna. So we put a split system down there and it cools fantastically. And to be honest, ours sort of works as an air conditioner, a dehumidifier and we also have the optional heat pump so that we could have supplementary heat in the basement in the winter months.

    And in the summertime, I practically never even put it on air condition, just because the dehumidification option cools the space fantastically. It’s super-quiet; you would never even know it’s on. The condensing unit, which will go outside, is slim and small; it does not occupy a large footprint. I thought it was an affordable option and it works fantastic.

    MICHAEL: And do you have a recommendation for any particular brand?

    TOM: Yeah, take a look at Mitsubishi Electric’s Cooling & Heating System. They are one of the leaders in the split-ductless category. Their systems are very energy-efficient and they have a technology that works like a cruise control in a car and then it ramps up to the cooling temperature that you want very quickly. And then it maintains there without turning on and off and on and off; it kind of slows down and speeds up. It actually feeds that cool temperature, leaves it nice and steady. Super-quiet system and also has a couple of cool features.

    For example, it has a smartphone app that you can use to run it. So if you like gadgets, like me, you like good-quality, energy-efficient equipment, take a look at that Mitsubishi system.

    MICHAEL: Alright. Well, thank you. I appreciate the info.

    TOM: Well, if you like to throw open your windows to let in the fresh air, you want to make sure every window in your home is outfitted for safety. Falls from windows are much more common now that we’re in the warmer months and they can often result in a serious injury or even death. And the dangers multiply for younger members of your household.

    Now, I think what’s important to note, though, is that this is a danger that we never had as kids. And the reason is the screen. They’re just not as strong as they were when we grew up. You know, back in the day, screens were solid metal. They could take quite a bang without giving up. You could hit them with a baseball; the balls would bounce off the screens. That’s how tough they were.

    But today, they’re made of lightweight plastic frames. They’re usually some sort of a screen material. And if you look at them sideways, they pop out. So, you can’t trust those screens for any degree of security whatsoever.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know what? Henry had a play date the other day and I had just cleaned the windows and I must have forgotten to reengage that little safety so you can’t open them more than however much you allow. And they were playing and I left the room to take care of the baby for a second and I went back in and the windows were just thrown wide open.

    And I yelled at these two kids. They were both looking at me in fear but I was like, “Listen, you cannot do that.” Because the screens today, they’re really just designed to keep the bugs out, not to keep people inside. And I know it was really innocent but God forbid one of the kids leaned on it. Forget it. They would have been right outside the window. So you really cannot rely on the screens today to protect your little ones from falling out.

    So, to protect your family, remember to keep those windows closed and locked when you’re not using them for ventilation. And avoid placing climbable furniture near to those windows. And window guards really should be installed on all windows on the second story or higher. And they should be operable so that in the event of an emergency, you can actually get out that window if you needed to.

    TOM: Good advice. 888-666-3974. If you have a summertime home improvement project planned, give us a call right now; we’ll help you get going, 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Catherine in Rhode Island is on the line with a leaky roof. Tell us about the problem, Catherine.

    CATHERINE: I have a small hole in the ceiling, in the corner of the back end of the house. And I was just wondering if when I go to have it replaced, how much of the plaster they’re going to have to take down.

    TOM: So you say it’s a small hole. So this is a hole that was caused by water damage?

    CATHERINE: Yes. It’s coming from the roof. I’m going to have to have a new roof, also.

    TOM: How old is the roof that you have now?

    CATHERINE: The roof is about 20 years old.

    TOM: OK. Well, it might be at the end of a normal life cycle.

    In terms of that ceiling space, you don’t have to take a lot down. How big is the hole that you have right now?

    CATHERINE: I would say it’s about 8 inches across.

    TOM: Eight by what?

    CATHERINE: It’s just like a slit.

    LESLIE: So there’s nothing open; it’s just like a crack.

    CATHERINE: Yes, it’s like a crack. And water drips but just from one area; it’s just like a little drip.

    TOM: If it’s not swollen or deformed in any way, then what you can do is you can add drywall tape across that crack, which would be perforated. You use – it looks kind of like a mesh; it’s a little sticky and it’s like a mesh. And then you spackle over the tape. And so you can basically spackle this crack closed and then prime it and paint it without having to replace any of the drywall.

    CATHERINE: Oh, really? Oh. Well, thank you very much. I thought I’d have to replace the whole ceiling.

    TOM: Nah, don’t let the contractors tell you it’s any more than that. It’s a real simple repair. If it’s just a crack, it can be spackled, primed, painted and you’re good to go.

    CATHERINE: Well, thank you very much. And I just want to add I love listening to your show. I learn so much. I listen to it every Saturday night.

    TOM: Well, thank you very much, Catherine. We really appreciate it. Thanks again for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Chuck in Texas needs some help preserving a wood project. Tell us what’s going on.

    CHUCK: I have three decks and when I made them, I used, of course, the Wolmanized lumber.

    TOM: Right.

    CHUCK: And then I have treated them two or three times now with Thompson’s WaterSeal.

    TOM: Right.

    CHUCK: But it seems like it doesn’t even last a year. And we don’t even get that much rain here.

    TOM: Right. So when you say it doesn’t last a year, what are you seeing in terms of the wear and tear?

    CHUCK: Well, they’re dulling, which I expect, but when they get wet, the water far from beads up.

    TOM: Right. So, look, in my experience, Thompson’s WaterSeal is a good application for regular lumber, not pressure-treated lumber.

    CHUCK: OK.

    TOM: And it does preserve it but if you want to really protect the deck, I would use a solid-color stain. I would use a solid-color exterior stain.

    Now, exterior stain comes transparent, semi-transparent and solid-color. The more color, the more pigment, the longer it lasts.

    CHUCK: OK.

    TOM: You’re never going to – that natural color of the wood will fade no matter what you put on that’s clear. So why not just give it a nice color that you like? If you like it to be a cedar color or a darker brown color, whatever color you like, choose that in a solid-color stain and stain the deck. And then that’s something that could last you five years.

    CHUCK: OK. Well, that sounds great instead of having to do it every year, every year-and-a-half.

    TOM: What else are you going to do with your weekends, Chuck?

    CHUCK: I have got so much stuff going on. I just got done building the wife a big pagoda out here in the backyard and putting the biggest fan and all that stuff in it.

    TOM: Oh, nice. Well, there you go. Thanks so much, Chuck. I really appreciate that. Have a great day.

    LESLIE: Jo in California is on the line and needs some help with some bar-stool restoration. Tell us what they look like.

    JO: Well, they have wooden arms and they’re padded, they’re cloth. And then down at the bottom, where the feet are at, they’ve got little wooden rails on them. And I need to redo them. I’ve got them cleaned and brushed down and everything. And somebody said I should use spar varnish on them and I need to know what to get to put on them – on the wood.

    LESLIE: Is there any metal at all? It’s all wood?

    JO: No. Everything else is padded.

    LESLIE: So everything else is fabric.

    JO: The arms are wood. It’s got one, two, three, four little metal legs on it, at the bottom, and halfway up. And bare wood. And I’ve got them ready to paint but I don’t know what to put on it.

    TOM: So you want to refinish the wood in a clear – the clear finish or a painted finish? A clear finish?

    JO: Clear finish.

    TOM: OK. So, yeah, you can use spar varnish on it; that’s a fine product. What you’re going to have to do, though, is lightly sand all those wood surfaces.

    JO: They’re ready. They have already done that.

    TOM: You’ve done that. OK. Well, then, you’ve done the hard part if you’ve done all the sanding. But what I would tell you to do is to be very careful to get the varnish only on the wood and not on any of the padded areas or the metal areas.

    LESLIE: Yeah. This is going to be about creative masking and taping things off and covering things with plastic and tape and …

    TOM: Yeah. Because if you get it on there, you’re going to have a problem. So you want to mask it very carefully to keep it away from the areas where you don’t want the spar varnish to get.

    JO: Yeah, OK. And you think that’s the best to get? Because somebody else said, “No, you don’t want to use that. You want to use clear acrylic.”

    TOM: Well, look, it’s a personal preference. The varnish is – I believe spar varnish is oil-based, which is fine. And it’s actually – you’ll find that the oil-based finishes are a little more durable in terms of abrasion resistance.

    LESLIE: And I think they give a better sheen, as well.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s a good point. Mm-hmm. They take a little longer to dry but they are a tougher finish.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. With the acrylic – clear coats, as they call it – it’s even available in a spray I’ve seen. I guess that really kind of depends on how raw the wood is, how much coverage you want. Again, masking is going to be the key here. And you really need to consider how much of a sheen you want. Think about that, as well, when you’re making your selection. Because if you want something that’s super-shiny and almost has that wet look, really, that oil-based varnish is the way to go.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, if you invest in the beauty of natural wood for the exterior of your home, you need to take a little time to preserve it. We’re going to talk about the easiest way to get that job done, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Trex, the world’s number-one, wood-alternative decking brand. Just in time to give your outdoor living space a summer upgrade, Trex Enhance Decking is available, in stock, at your local Home Depot. To learn more about the long-lasting beauty, hassle-free maintenance and industry-leading warranty of Trex Enhance, visit HomeDepot.Trex.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: Standing by to help you with your home improvement projects. Pick up the phone and help yourself first by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, it’s the time of year that many homeowners head outside to tackle projects on the exterior of their money pits, like power-washing and checking walkways and driveways for cracks and wear and tear from that long winter and also checking decks and other exterior wood.

    LESLIE: That’s right. You know, wood that’s exposed to the elements does need special maintenance and attention. But if that’s done properly and following all of the steps in the right order, the result will be gorgeous-looking wood on the outside of your home. So here to tell us exactly how to do this is Bill Gradisher, a wood-care expert with Flood.

    Welcome, Bill.

    BILL: Oh, thank you very much. It’s nice to be here.

    LESLIE: So, Bill, why is exterior wood care so darn important?

    BILL: Well, wood itself, you have to remember, is organic. So, if it’s exposed to the elements, it’s eventually going to start to deteriorate. So what we want to do is just make sure that we’re keeping that wood in good, healthy condition. Just like we do with our cars – we clean and wax them – the same thing with our wood. We want to make sure that we’re giving them a good cleaning and then putting the oils back into the wood so they stay in a healthy condition.

    TOM: So here’s a question that we get frequently, Bill: when you get new wood – let’s say you’re building a new deck – should you finish that deck right away? So many people say that you should wait an entire season before you do that, to kind of let some of the chemicals that are in the pressure-treated lumber evaporate out. What’s your take on that?

    BILL: Well, I – there’s a couple things. Yeah, the chemicals that are in the wood, as well – there’s a lot of moisture in pressure-treated wood. And when it’s delivered to a job site, it’s going to be around 40-percent moisture. So we’re trying to get that moisture content to be under 18 percent before we apply any kind of a finish.

    But you also have to deal with what they call a “mill glaze.” When they mill the wood to plane it down to a nice, smooth surface, they actually cause a glaze to go over that wood. It’s very difficult for products or oils to penetrate down into that wood and give it good adhesion.

    So we do recommend that the wood be allowed to weather for around three to six months, maybe even longer if it doesn’t get much sun exposure. And then do what we call a “water absorption test,” which is, essentially, just taking a few ounces of water and putting it directly onto the wood. What we’re looking for is the water to penetrate down into that wood within 30 seconds. If it does that, then we know we’re good to clean the wood and go ahead and apply our finish.

    LESLIE: And if it’s not, you’ve got to wait a little while, right?

    BILL: Yeah. If it doesn’t occur, then I suggest usually waiting four to six weeks and then just try the whole process again.

    LESLIE: Finishing any sort of a deck – whether it’s stain, paint, whatever you’re working on with it – even if you’re just putting a clear coat on, you really want to make sure that you do it well and that it lasts a long time. So, how can anybody who’s working on their deck this spring season make sure that that finish is going to last a long time?

    BILL: Well, the number-one drawback that I find with stains and finishes are people not taking the proper steps in the cleaning process. We want to make sure that we’re getting it down to a good, clean, sound surface. The stains themselves will penetrate down into the wood, the cleaner the wood.

    So we just want to make sure that that finish – there’s no mildew in there, there’s no dirt in there so that when we get down, we’re seeing nothing but the wood. And any stains that are going on top of that, then, are going to give us a nice, clear look to it. The deeper it goes into the wood, the longer the lasting it’s going to be.

    TOM: Good advice. We’re talking to Bill Gradisher. He is a technical support/wood-care expert with the Flood company.

    So, Bill, the hardest part of any project is getting started. I understand you guys have a publication that kind of lays that out and helps us take the first step pretty easily. What is it?

    BILL: Yes, we do. It’s at our Flood.com and it’s called Simplify. And it basically just takes you through the step-by-step process of what project you’re working on. And it’ll ask you a bunch of different questions that’ll allow you to go through and determine: “Do I need a solid stain? Do I need a semi-transparent stain? What types of cleaners do I need to do – use? And how much stain am I going to need to do my project?”

    TOM: Terrific. Bill Gradisher from Flood, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    If you’d like more information and you’d like to check out that Flood Staining Made Simple Guide, simply visit Flood.com/Simplify. That’s Flood.com/Simplify.

    Thanks, Bill.

    BILL: Oh, thank you very much.

    LESLIE: Alright. You’ve heard all about it: the cicadas are coming. Aughh. But don’t panic. I’m panicking a little bit but don’t panic. We’re going to clear up some myths about these invading insects, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Trex, the world’s number-one, wood-alternative decking brand. Just in time to give your outdoor living space a summer upgrade, Trex Enhance Decking is available, in stock, at your local Home Depot. To learn more about the long-lasting beauty, hassle-free maintenance and industry-leading warranty of Trex Enhance, visit HomeDepot.Trex.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. And we here at Team Money Pit have the answers to your home improvement questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And we also have a really great Father’s Day gift for one caller who makes it on the air with us. It’s a DeWALT 204-Piece Mechanics Tool Set. And pros love these tools and you will, too. Each one has a super-deep, laser-etched marking on it so you can totally see exactly what socket size you are grabbing.

    And you can check out the tool set and all of DeWALT’s mechanics sets at DeWALT.com.

    TOM: Now, this set is worth $240. It’s just one of the many great ideas you’ll find on the Father’s Day Gift Guide, presented by DeWALT, on MoneyPit.com. So check it out, especially if you’re having trouble figuring out what to get the father figure in your life or maybe you just want to get yourself a little something. And be sure to give us a call right now for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win that 204-Piece Mechanics Tool Set from DeWALT, by dialing us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    JANET: My house is over 100 years old and there was a large, three-trunk tree in the backyard that had to be cut down. But it had so many nails in the tree that after using two chainsaws and losing the chains because there were so many nails in it, we have this humungous trunk left in the backyard. And I’d like to know how to get rid of it, because I can’t use the grinder on it.

    TOM: Why can’t you use a – well, you mentioned chainsaws. But why not a trunk grinder: the type of grinder that tree services have that basically ground down or grind down the stumps to below-grade? That sort of grinder should certainly be strong enough to handle the nails that are in the tree.

    JANET: OK.

    TOM: So I would have a pro come out and use a stump grinder. And that’s the best way to get rid of that. You don’t have to get it all out; just get it down to below the surface and Mother Nature will do the rest.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Get ready. Every 17 years, a large swath of the country gets an invasion of strange-looking, red-eyed, flying – gigantic, I might add – insects called “cicadas.” Now, this happens to be the 17th year and despite the hysteria these invasions generally drum up, they’re actually pretty harmless.

    But here’s where the problem started. Now, a long time ago, people thought cicadas were locusts. Now, locusts can actually wreak havoc on yards, crops, houses, you name it. I mean in biblical proportions. But cicadas simply are not locusts.

    TOM: Yeah. Actually, they’re not even remotely related to locusts. They only eat sap and they come up from the ground where they’ve been developing for 17 years. Now, they’re the worst on the East Coast from, say, Georgia to New York. And if you live in one of these states, there’s really nothing that you need to do to protect your house.

    They will be annoying, they will be loud but they won’t damage your house. They could cause damage to small plants, vegetables, that kind of stuff. And they can be heavy enough to make branches break or maybe leaves snap. But if you’re worried about that, you can put some very fine, ¼-inch mesh around any of the plants that you need to protect.

    LESLIE: If you guys in radio land could see my face right now, I’m making a really grossed-out cicada face. Aughh.

    Now, they can also leave scarring on tree branches as the females do lay their eggs inside the bark. And an older tree is really going to not have any problems surviving this but a younger, maybe even ornamental fruit tree might need a ¼-inch net around it. You just want to make sure that it’s securely tightened around the trunk so that these buggers can’t get in through the bottom.

    Other than that, just buy some ear plugs and wait it out. It’s kind of a short-term thing.

    TOM: Yeah. But actually, Leslie, there is something that cicadas are good for. And I found this just for you because the web is full of cicada recipes. Here’s one for German-Chocolate Cicada Cake. You start with the German sweet cookie chocolate, the water, the all-purpose flour but you need to add 2/3-cup of finely-ground dry cicadas.

    And then this is my favorite: the recipe also calls for 50 female cicadas blanched. How do you know? So you’re out there, you’re counting them – “Forty-seven, oh, now I’ve got to put that one back; that’s a guy cicada. Forty-eight, forty-nine, fifty, I got them!” So, it’s amazing. If you search “cicada recipes” online, there’s all sorts of cicada recipes out there. So I guess at least some people are going to be eating good. The rest of us are going to be totally grossed out.

    LESLIE: Did you even see? On Saturday Night Live, I guess it was in May a couple weeks back, when – was it Ben Affleck was hosting? During the news, they were talking about a sushi restaurant was like toying around with some sort of cicada roll. Disgusting.

    TOM: Apparently, they taste like shrimp. Who knew?

    LESLIE: Gross.

    LESLIE: Scott in West Virginia is on the line with a kitchen faucet that’s leaking. Tell us what’s going on.

    SCOTT: Well, I’ve got a little problem in my kitchen. My wife is driving me crazy about it and it’s driving me crazy, also.


    TOM: Alright. What’s going on?

    SCOTT: Most of the time, you have a drippy faucet in your kitchen or something like that. My problem is is that it’s leaking around the handles: the hot and cold. And I’ve never had that to happen before and I’m like, “OK. Do I have to replace the whole thing or is there a kit that I can buy that – to stop this mess?”

    TOM: Do you know what manufacturer – the faucet you have?

    SCOTT: I knew you were going to ask me that and I thought about looking and I just didn’t. And I believe it’s Delta but I’m not sure about that.

    TOM: See, here’s the thing. If you can identify the manufacturer, you can get a rebuild kit with new washers and so on for those faucets. But if you can’t figure it out, do not ever use a generic. Because if you use a generic, even though it looks perfectly, it doesn’t fit.

    Now, that said, if it’s an older faucet and you replace it now, the new faucets are going to have ceramic discs – ceramic-disc valves – which the older they are, the tighter they get. So they really never leak. So the technology has gotten so much better now with the way faucets are made that you might want to consider just replacing it, rather than trying to take it apart and put it back together and maybe they’ll still leak.

    SCOTT: Right. It’s probably, I’d say, 10 or 12 years old, so …

    TOM: Yeah. Might be due for a new one.

    Hey, listen, we saw one not too long ago that actually is a touch – motion-activated that – Moen makes it. It’s called – I think it’s called MotionSense. And you wave your hand over the top of this thing and it comes on or you bring a dish sort of up to it and automatically it comes on. Or it has a regular …

    LESLIE: It’s like, “Look, I’m washing your dish.”

    TOM: Or like a regular faucet. Right. It’s like how many times do you walk up to the faucet to fill your cup – coffee cup – up or to rinse it out, I mean? Just by walking up to it, it comes on.

    SCOTT: Right.

    LESLIE: Or with your hands from chicken breasts, you know? It’s like you don’t want to touch the faucet.

    TOM: Yeah.

    SCOTT: Sure.

    TOM: Yeah. Yeah, that was pretty cool. So I think it’s called MotionSense. It’s by Moen.

    SCOTT: OK. That sounds worth looking into.

    TOM: Alright. Well, good luck, Scott.

    SCOTT: OK. Thanks, you guys, for the info.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. And make your wife happy and replace it, will you?

    SCOTT: OK.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, could your basement be used as a setting for a scary movie? We’re going to tell you how to fix the squeaky, creaky staircase for less than a hundred bucks, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more at LutronSensors.com.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, are you looking to make your house really pop from the curb? We can help you choose a paint color that will do just that. Just go on over to MoneyPit.com and search “exterior colors that can help sell your home.”

    LESLIE: And hot pink is not one of them, guys.

    And while you’re online, post a question, just like Jimmy from Tennessee did who writes: “What can I use to get rust off of old tools?”

    TOM: WD-40 works quite well. What you want to do is spray a little light lubricant like that and then follow up with an emery paper – you know, a very, very fine sandpaper – to remove that rust. And then wipe the tools down with a bit of oil.

    Now, you can also use rust inhibitor, which’ll be a little less greasy. And they’re often used on guns, I think, to keep them from rusting. You can pick up rust inhibitors at any hardware store and protect your tools with that.

    LESLIE: The key, really, is regular maintenance, so just stay on top of it.

    TOM: Well, redoing a basement can cost a huge chunk of change but there are things that you can do to make your basement a safer descent underground. And that’s the topic of today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Well, if your basement looks like a place that Freddy Krueger might be hanging out – I’m scaring myself even just saying his name. And maybe you’re not up for a total basement redo. There are a few things that you can do to actually make that space more inviting.

    First of all, you want to think about safety. Now, basement stairs, they’re a major cause of slips and falls. And if yours are kind of dark and scary, you can make them safer by attaching some sort of traction. Sandpaper works really well.

    Now, you can cut the paper in fun or decorative shapes and use contact cement to attach it. Also, you want to make sure that you have handrails for those stairs and remember to keep that staircase well-lit.

    Now, speaking of lighting, you might want to invest in an occupancy sensor. Lutron has got the Maestro Occupancy Sensor. It’s one we’ve spoken about on the show before. I mean it’s great because it senses when you enter the space, it senses when you leave the space. It turns the light on, off. It really works very well and perfect for this area of application. And it will make sure that those lights come on as soon as you start to descend those stairs.

    Now, the cheapest transformation with the biggest impact is going to be paint. You can paint the stairs around the walls a bright color and you can really go crazy here because it’s the entrance to your basement. Now, a sunny yellow can do wonders to add sheer and light and maybe scare off that Freddy Krueger. I wouldn’t do red-and-green stripes because then he’ll just blend in with his sweater and you won’t know he’s there until it’s too late. And maybe you can look forward to doing your laundry if you’ve got a nice, bright color down there.

    Now, don’t stop with the walls either. A painted concrete floor can really bring some life to your space. Just a few simple and inexpensive changes can actually make your basement less of a horror-movie set and more of a family space. I remember the basement in my childhood home. You had to turn the light off in the staircase at the bottom of the steps. It wasn’t one of those three-way switches.

    TOM: Oh. And then go up the – did you go up the dark staircase?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And I’d turn it off and I would run, run so fast up those steps. So, let’s make your basement a nice place to be. Fix it up, be safe and scare away those evil buggers down there.

    TOM: And by the way, if you want to fix those squeaks in the steps, just reinforce each tread by screwing it into the riser at the front edge. That will quiet them down, actually, quite a bit.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Just about all the time we have this hour. But coming up next time on the program, if you’re having a major plumbing problem, that’s a situation that could only be made worse if you hire the wrong plumber. We’re going to teach you how to find the best pros in the business, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


    (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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