Safe Mosquito Repellants for Kids #0529172

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  • Mosquito repellent / insect repellent
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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: What are you doing on this beautiful, almost summer weekend? If it involves taking care of your house – maybe you’re picking up a paintbrush, maybe you’re thinking about cleaning your deck, maybe you’re looking to do some landscaping, maybe you want to plan a project to get done later in the summer – we would love to hear all about it at 888-MONEY-PIT. That is the phone number to contact us: 888-666-3974.

    We’ve got a great show planned for you. Coming up this hour, mosquitoes are in full swing right now, which means you may be improperly bathing yourself and your kids in mosquito repellants. We’re going to have some important tips to keep you safe and one which will be very, very surprising.

    LESLIE: Plus, can battery-powered tools handle just about anything a corded or a gas-powered tool can do? Many people say yes but we’re going to test that theory with advice from an expert on the cutting edge of using batteries for some really big tools, like lawn mowers and chainsaws.

    TOM: Plus, when it comes to kitchen cleanup, your dishwasher can certainly handle a lot. But if you load the wrong things, they can be ruined or worse, damage your dishwasher. We’ll have some tips, just ahead.

    LESLIE: And we’d also love to take your question about whatever project you are tackling today. And if you do call in your home improvement question or post it to the Money Pit’s Community section at, we’ve got some great products to give away to a couple of listeners picked at random.
    First, to help you enjoy great-tasting water all summer long, The Home Depot has hooked us up with the PUR Faucet-Mounting System and PUR Mount Replacement Water Filters worth almost 70 bucks.

    TOM: Plus, if you’d like to step up your tool organization, we’ve got a great Husky storage package to give away and it includes the 46-Inch, 9-Drawer Mobile Workbench and a 22-Inch Connect Rolling System Tool Box. Together, they’re worth 279 bucks, so some fantastic prizes to give away to those that call or post their questions on the Money Pit Community section at We’ll give one each away to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Pick up the phone, give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Louise in Delaware is on the line with some carpenter bees visiting her home. Tell us what’s going on.

    LOUISE: Yes, ma’am. I have a deck in my – at my back door and I have a roof. It doesn’t extend all the way out to the end of the deck. Just about halfway. And I’ve been having, for several years, a major problem with carpenter bees. They actually make perfectly round holes in the roof of the deck.

    And I had an exterminator a couple of years ago and he said he would spray it but no guarantees. And he sprayed it and maybe for about five days I didn’t see them but they came right back. But someone told me – it was actually another exterminator, a really older lady. She said to get steel wool and put steel wool in the holes because they can’t get out through the steel wool. Because my cousin put cotton balls soaked in bleach in the holes she had on her deck and they actually ate through the cotton balls and they ate through the caulking.

    TOM: There’s the do-it-yourself methods and there’s the professional methods. I’m troubled by the fact that you hired an exterminator – it sounds like it was some time ago – and he wouldn’t guarantee a result. That’s not acceptable. Most professional exterminators have the tools, the knowledge and the pesticides to effectively eliminate carpenter bees with a reasonable guarantee of success.

    So, if you have such a serious problem as this, I would definitely suggest that you go find yourself a new exterminator, maybe from a national-brand company like Orkin. You’d have better success with that.

    Now, if you want to do this yourself, you know, the reason that the bees form those holes is because they’re nesting. And so the way they’re treated is you spray a pesticide inside those holes. You can also spray something that’s petroleum-based inside the holes, because they don’t like that. You can fill them with steel wool.

    There’s lots of ways that you could try this yourself. But given the severity of the problem, I would suggest you find a good exterminator that can treat it with the right type of pesticide and you not have to worry about it. And I don’t think you had a pro last time. You get a pro to address this problem and just get it done, once and for all, alright?

    Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    STAN: Oh, well, I had just bought a house that was built in 1995. It’s a 4,000-square-foot underground home.

    TOM: Wow. That sounds neat.

    LESLIE: And it’s not a transformed missile? I’ve been to Oklahoma and I’ve seen these missile-launching areas that have been sort of retaken over and turned into homes.

    STAN: No, this is actually an underground concrete structure that was specifically built to be a house.

    TOM: Do you get to mow your roof?

    STAN: Yes, I do.

    LESLIE: Interesting.

    TOM: Very cool. So, what can we help you with?

    STAN: Well, I knew when I bought this that it had a few leaks. And being that the house is getting close to being 20 years old, I feel that it’s time to probably remove the dirt and expose and probably replace the roof and especially since I have some leaks. And I’m having trouble finding somebody that deals with any kind of underground structure/home and especially in a roof/ceiling of that nature.

    And I was curious if – I’m sure this is probably going to be an expensive undertaking. But furthermore, after I go back and get it all done, when I find the contractor to do it, what may be – is there some care/preventative maintenance that – how I care for that underground roof system, so I’m not coming back at a later date and time and going back through the same process.

    TOM: There’s no way we could give you the answer to that question but we can give you some advice on how to approach it.

    What I would do is I would find an architect to spec out this roof project, because it’s a big project, 4,000-square-foot roof. And I would have an architect or an engineer spec out the project. Let them do the research on what are the most viable materials out there right now, available, to replace this roof with. And have them provide – prepare a specification for that.

    It’s worth the investment because then with that spec, you can bring it to qualified contractors. And I would guess, probably, the best contractors would be those that do commercial roofing, not residential roofing. And have them follow this specification exactly. I would not try to find a roofing contractor that has their own personal idea of how to do this. Because you’re not going to find somebody that’s experienced in these homes; it’s too unique. But if you find a building professional that could spec this out for you, do the research on the best way to replace that roof, that spec will be very valuable to you.

    STAN: Perfect. That’s a great idea. Never even thought of that.

    TOM: Alright. Well, good luck, Stan.

    STAN: Hey, guys, I appreciate it.

    TOM: Got to work – we’ve got to work smarter, not harder, right?

    STAN: That’s right.

    TOM: Thank you so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    STAN: Appreciate it. Thanks.

    LESLIE: Now, you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor. Find out what it costs to do your home project before you hire a pro. And instantly book one of HomeAdvisor’s background-checked pros for free.

    TOM: And just ahead, The Home Depot is a great source for the solution to any water-quality issues. And they’ve hooked up with one of those systems to give away. We’ve got the PUR Faucet-Mounting System and PUR Mount Replacement Water Filter worth over 69 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Standing by for your call, your question at 888-MONEY-PIT, which is presented by HomeAdvisor. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away the PUR Chrome Horizontal Faucet-Mount System and the PUR Faucet-Mount MineralClear Replacement Filters. The package is worth, in total, almost 70 bucks and it’s available at The Home Depot.
    Yeah, Home Depot is on top of it when it comes to water-quality issues. They have got it all and this package has the MAXION filter technology, which is PUR’s unique approach for blending carbon and ion-exchange materials for maximum contaminant level. It’s easy to attach. It’s kind of a tool-free installation. And the CleanSensor monitor visibly indicates a filter’s status and guarantees you will always have safer and healthier water.

    Because I’ve got to tell you, I’ve looked at these systems for years and people never change the filters. And of course, that doesn’t make it safe. I love the fact that the monitoring system is built right in with this PUR product.
    That system is available at The Home Depot and but one is going out to a lucky caller drawn at random. Make that you. The number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Richard in South Dakota, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    RICHARD: Yeah, I have a lift pump that’s making an unusual noise. Like it’ll fire off and then it makes a harmonic noise about halfway through the pumping station.

    TOM: OK.

    RICHARD: And hoping it’ll be like a check valve that needs replaced in there or if it’s – if you need more background, it’s a replacement pump for one I had in there. I had a ¼-horse in there before and now it’s got a ½-horse. It’s actually a bigger lift pump than the one I had before.

    TOM: Generally, when I hear a squealing noise, I consider whether or not it’s an issue with the bearings.

    It could also be an issue with the valve itself, perhaps the check valve. Because sometimes, as the water streams through that, it’s vibrating against the valve and then that vibration can transmit. I mean plumbing pipes are really pretty good transmitters of sound, so it can transmit and amplify and sound really bad.

    If it’s still working and it’s not slowing down flow or anything like that, I guess I would think probably not to worry about it too much. But my concern is that if it is a wear-and-tear issue and something’s going to seize up, you may end up with a surprise repair.

    This is not your main bathroom, is it? This is an additional bathroom?

    RICHARD: Yeah, it’s an addition that was put on later on, so …

    TOM: Alright. Well, if it breaks down, it breaks down; at least you’re not out of luck. But my concern is that it might be a precursor of worse things to come.

    RICHARD: Yeah.

    TOM: So I would keep an eye on it and see what happens, OK?

    RICHARD: Alright.

    LESLIE: Well, now that summer is settling in, mosquitoes are, as well, which makes now a really great time to review the best mosquito repellants to keep those biting bugs at bay in today’s Mosquito Prevention Tip, presented by DynaTrap.

    TOM: Now, first up, according to the Centers for Disease Control, it’s important you use only EPA-registered products. And there are four that they recommend.

    Now, the first one, of course, is DEET – D-E-E-T. It’s actually a short abbreviation for a very long chemical name that I will not try to say. But it’s always been sort of my go-to mosquito repellant for when I’m out of the house – if I’m working outside, if I’m backpacking – because it works. And it stays active for a really long time.

    You know, for years, I was a professional home inspector and we had these areas around the shore where there were a lot of waterways and high grass that those biting flies love to kind of fester in. And you would get attacked as soon as you got out of your car. But not when I had on my DEET. It always worked, never let me down.

    Now, another one is picaridin. It’s another repellant that’s been proven to work. You’ll find it in products like Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft and so on. And then there’s oil of lemon eucalyptus.

    Now, I think this one is interesting because you need to make sure you’re using the synthesized version of the product, which goes by the initials O-L-E. The reason is because the pure oil of lemon eucalyptus is actually not formulated as a repellant, so it’s not recommended. So don’t just head over to the health-food store and buy this store and expect it to work, because it probably won’t.

    And finally, there’s another product simply called IR3535. And that’s a product that you’ll find in Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus and also SkinSmart.

    LESLIE: Hmm. And I think those are things that are the happy accident that you didn’t think would be a bug repellant but turned out to be. Everybody always seems to find those.

    Alright. Now, the other important thing that you guys really need to keep in mind is that you have to know how to properly apply these repellants. And this one tip here, guys, is probably going to surprise you.

    Now, first of all, you’re only supposed to apply the repellant only to your exposed skin or on the clothing but never under your clothing. So think about that. If you apply a repellant to your kids’ arms and then you’re out and about and it starts to get chilly, technically, you’re supposed to wash off that repellant before you put on your jacket or your sweatshirt. Who does that?

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: I’ve never done that. I didn’t even realize that was something you were supposed to do.

    TOM: No. But I’ve seen that language on the can and I think it’s kind of one of those things that they’re required to put there but nobody ever does.

    LESLIE: I mean it’s making me wonder. I’m like, “What could it do to you?” That’s kind of scary.

    Now, here – this is kind of obvious but you know it happens: never use the repellant over cuts or your wounds, if you’ve got a boo-boo or an irritated skin.

    Now, when using the spray, don’t spray it directly onto your face. You want to spray the repellant onto your hands first and then apply it to your face. And that’s today’s Mosquito Prevention Tip, presented by DynaTrap Mosquito and Insect Trap.

    DynaTrap is another great way to keep your yard mosquito-free all summer long. Tom and I both have DynaTraps and they really do work fantastically well.

    TOM: We live in New Jersey where mosquitoes are pretty ferocious and actually …

    LESLIE: They’re like birds in New Jersey. Let’s just be honest.

    TOM: They are, they are. I plugged the DynaTrap in just a couple of weeks ago now and I’m going to leave it there all summer, because that’s exactly what I did last year and we were able to enjoy many an evening meal outside without the fear of getting bit. It’s incredibly effective and I like the technology because the DynaTrap produces CO2 and it uses UV light, which attracts the mosquitoes and then draws them into a screened-in basket so you can actually see it working every day. It’s completely non-toxic.

    The ½-acre trap retails for 129 bucks and the 1-acre trap retails for 199. You’ll find it at most hardware stores and major retailers. But if you go to and you use the promo code MONEYPIT, you’ll get 15 percent off your purchase with that promo code MONEYPIT. Learn more at –

    LESLIE: Andrea from Ontario, Canada is on the line with a mold question. How can we help you today?

    ANDREA: My question (inaudible at 0:16:22) regarding black mold. And it’s behind my sink. Between the sink and the backsplash, there’s a little bit of space and this black mold settles in. There’s a lot of moisture, obviously. They’re running the water and it splashes, so – behind and around the sink, as well as around my tub.

    I tried bleach. I scrubbed it. We, at one point, took out the caulking and recaulked it but it came back. So I’m at a – kind of a loss what to do with this.

    TOM: Mold is going to grow any place that you have an organic material, which could be drywall. Or it could also be, believe it or not, soap scum. It can have organic matter in it and that can feed mold. And so, you have a condition there that’s going to be prevalent to mold regrowth. Even when you clean it, it’s going to come back. You’re not going to permanently prevent it unless you change the environment – the climate – that exists in that particular area.

    So, with respect to the tile area, let’s deal with that first. When you retiled – when you recaulked, I’m sorry – did you pull all the old caulk out?

    ANDREA: Pulled it all out. Took it all out. It was actually our contractor who said, “Keep it very dry.” “Bone dry,” he called it. And then once we had it all dried out, then he came back and put a layer of this white material. I’m not exactly sure what it was but he finished it all.

    TOM: OK. So you’re not quite sure what the product is.

    Here would be the steps. When you pull the old caulk out, you need to spray the joint between the tub and the tile with a bleach solution. That’s going to kill any mold spores that are left behind. Then, after that’s dry, one additional step: fill up the tub with water because it makes it heavy and it pulls it down. And then you caulk it.

    And when you caulk it, you want to use a product that has mildicide in it. Now, DAP, for example, has a caulk that has an additive called Microban. And Microban will not grow mold; it will prevent it from growing. And so, if you use the right product and you take the step of treating it with a bleach solution first, before you apply it, that helps it to last as long as possible. But again, if you don’t control humidity conditions, eventually it will come back.

    As for the sink, the same advice applies. You not only have to clean it, which takes away the visual, but you have to spray it with a mildicide. And so you could mix, say, a 10- to 20-percent bleach solution with water. And then let it dry and that will help prevent it from coming back.

    ANDREA: I’ll try that.

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

    LESLIE: Just ahead, can battery-powered tools handle just about anything a corded or a gas-powered tool can do? We’re going to find out, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, there’s nothing quite as restful on a summer Saturday morning than waking up to morning sunshine and chirping birds. That is, of course, until your neighbor decides to drag out his loud lawn mower, his string trimmer or backpack blower and fire it up, waking up the entire neighborhood. Well, lithium battery-powered outdoor tools are now offering a viable alternative for homeowners looking for an easier and quieter way to tackle their lawn-maintenance chores. They’re made by Greenworks Tools and we’re pleased to welcome Greenworks’ Director of Marketing, Gray Abercrombie, to learn more.

    Welcome, Gray,

    GRAY: Great to be here. Thanks for having me.

    TOM: So, I guess when people hear these are – tools are battery-powered, they worry that they can’t do the same job. But I’ve used them and it’s pretty amazing that they can really handle pretty much the same things you can throw at gas-powered equipment. What’s changed to make these tools so effective?

    GRAY: Well, I think it’s the advancements in the battery technology. Lithium batteries have been developed to the point where the highest voltage that we offer is, for example, an 80-volt battery. And with that type of power, it’s pretty equal to gas.

    TOM: Yeah, absolutely. Now, the lithium battery-powered technology is interesting because it has no memory. Now, that’s sort of a battery technical term and what it means is that the battery – first of all, it has consistent power. It doesn’t sort of slow down as it starts to lose energy. It’s sort of full-on from start to finish. But it also means you’re going to get that same amount of power whether it’s the 1st time you’ve used it or the 50th time you’ve used it, right?

    GRAY: That’s correct. The lithium batteries don’t have that memory effect. So, if you think about a NiCd battery, the first time you use it, it’s probably the best it’s ever going to perform.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a good point.

    GRAY: Because, you know, the memory will not allow that battery to be fully charged from that point forward. Lithium batteries don’t have that memory, so you can fully recharge the battery and it works as well the 1st – the 20th time you use it, the 500th time you use it. It’s still going to operate the same and give you the same optimal power output.

    TOM: Now, you take that technology, you couple it now with brushless motors, so you actually need less power to create more work, so to speak. That really gives you that leading combination that you need to be able to make a lawn mower, for example, that runs off of a battery or a chainsaw.

    GRAY: That’s correct. So you have two factors that provide power and runtime: the voltage is the power and then the amp hourage. So that provides the runtime. So, a 60-volt battery with 4 amp hours will provide 1 of our 60-volt, walk-behind mowers with enough power to operate for up to 60 minutes.

    TOM: Yeah. And that’s plenty to do a pretty good-sized lot.

    We’re talking to Gray Abercrombie – he is the director of marketing for Greenworks Tools – about new advances in battery-powered lawn equipment.

    So, Gray, you guys make a lawn mower, you make a chainsaw, you make a string trimmer, backpack blower. Seems like you can pretty much make anything that a homeowner would need to take care of their property without having to turn to gas power. And I like that because, let’s face it, gas power is a lot of work to maintain.

    Invariably, when you pull it out at the start of the season, there’s a lot of pulling of cords and a lot of misfires if you get it to fire at all. The gas turns bad after a very short period of time. It has to be thoroughly cleaned sometimes. There’s just a lot of work that goes away when all you have to do is take your battery out, charge it up and plug it in.

    GRAY: Well, that’s exactly right. You can store the batteries in your garage, these lithium batteries. I have batteries that were sitting in a wheelbarrow for the entire winter. As soon as the weather turned and it was time to do some lawn maintenance, I picked a battery, popped it into one of the tools and it started right up.

    So, to your point, you don’t have to worry about the ethanol, mixing the gas, affecting your small engines. You don’t have to worry about choking an engine, you don’t have to mix fuel and make sure you’re mixing it correctly with oil or some sort of additive. All that’s taken away with these lithium batteries.

    TOM: And can you store the lithium battery, even throughout the winter outside, or do you recommend taking it in?

    GRAY: You can store them outside. What we recommend is that you don’t leave them in the tool.

    TOM: OK.

    GRAY: When you’re ready to close up shop for the winter, so to speak, take the batteries out of the tools. You can leave them outside. We do recommend you kind of box them up and keep them in a secure location but the cold weather is not really going to affect them unless you get down to 20 or 30 below 0. And there’s some areas of the country that experience that type of winter, so we do recommend, at that point, you bring the batteries inside.

    TOM: Yeah. But think about it. That’s pretty much all the maintenance you’re going to have to do. Just move that battery inside in the super-cold weather.

    And you’ve got a new line of Greenworks battery-powered product out at Lowes now: the 60-volt line. Sixty volts is plenty of power to do just about anything you need, huh?

    GRAY: Absolutely. Available at Lowes and We have the 60-volt walk-behind mower, string trimmer, handheld blower, hedge trimmer, chainsaw. We even have a backpack blower. And the great thing about this platform is that the same battery fits every tool, so it’s very interchangeable. You could purchase a couple of tools with a couple of batteries and then go to and purchase the tools without the batteries and save a lot of money.

    TOM: That’s a great point. And of course, no carbon emissions and a very, very quiet lawn-mowing experience.
    Gray Abercrombie from Greenworks Tools, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    Check out the new Greenworks Pro 60-Volt line available now at Lowes and

    Thanks, Gray.

    GRAY: Thank you.

    LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much, Gray.

    Hey, you guys are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Call us now with your questions at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    If you’re a DIYer who loves tools but has nowhere to keep them organized, we’re going to help you out right now because The Home Depot has hooked us up with a Husky storage package, including a 46-Inch, 9-Drawer Mobile Workbench and a 22-Inch Connect Rolling System Tool Box. Together, this is a prize package worth 279 bucks.

    TOM: Yeah. And hint-hint, they’re both perfect Father’s Day gifts but we’re giving one set away to a listener drawn at random. Two ways to win. Call in your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT or post it to the Community section at

    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number here is 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated home improvement pros for any project. Go to

    LESLIE: That’s right. And this hour, we’ve got a fantastic prize to give away to one of our callers or even someone who posts a question over at We’ve got up for grabs a Husky storage package.

    Now, that’s going to include the 46-Inch 9-Drawer Mobile Workbench with a solid-wood top. And we’ve also got the 22-Inch Connect Rolling System Tool Box to go right along with it. You can check out the whole Husky line at The Home Depot and but the storage package from Husky is worth $278.98.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Jim in Illinois is on the line with some drafty windows. Tell us about your money pit.

    JIM: Well, I have an historic, old home. It’s over 100 years old.

    TOM: OK.

    JIM: And it has all of the original windows and glass in it.

    TOM: Alright.

    JIM: And they are, needless to say, very drafty. So I was trying to figure out a way that was fairly cost-effective closing up those drafts.

    TOM: So if you want to keep the original windows, then you essentially have to work with what you have. So, adding weather-stripping is really the limit of what you can do with those.

    I will say that if you’ve got one that’s really drafty, in a room that maybe you don’t need to open the window, there is a product that’s called “temporary caulk” or “weather-stripping caulk.” It’s basically a caulk that’s designed to go on clear and then in the spring, you can peel it off. It comes off sort of in a rubbery strip. So, that’s also an effective way to seal a window that you’re not going to open. But remember, you’re kind of sealing it shut, so you’ve got to be careful not to do that in a bedroom or a place where you need to have emergency egress.

    Now, if you want to replace the window, you could look at different manufacturers that make very historic windows. Marvin, for example, is very good at this. Andersen is good at it, as well. They make windows that fit well into a historic building. Then, of course, you’ve got all the modern conveniences that are associated with that.

    I think that you would find, obviously, huge energy differences, not only in the drafts but also in the solar heat gain in the summer. Because I’m sure there’s nothing stopping all of that heat of the sun from getting into those windows. And if you have new glass that’s got a low-E coating, it’s going to reflect that heat back out.

    So, weather-stripping – liquid weather-stripping or temporary caulk – or window replacement. Those would be your options.

    JIM: OK. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Jim. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, when it comes to kitchen cleanup, your dishwasher can handle a lot. But if you load the wrong things, they can be ruined or worse, damage your dishwasher.

    LESLIE: Now, it goes without saying that anything marked “hand wash” should be hand-washed but those aren’t the only items that should never find their way into your dishwasher, especially if you go all the way to Disney World and buy those cute Mickey Mouse-shaped sippy straws and then grandma goes and puts them in the dishwasher. They no longer look like Mickey Mouse. So let’s be smart, people. Some things just don’t go in there.

    Now, let’s talk about what you can’t put in there. A seasoned cast-iron skillet, I mean that really is the point of pride for a lot of cooks out there. But that seasoning can be undone in one dishwashing cycle. You want to hand-wash cast iron always but not with soap. You want to scrub it with cooking oil and salt instead. Then you want to wipe it dry with a paper towel or a clean cloth towel and that will keep it from rusting. You never want to let it air-dry.

    And if you fill an insulated travel mug with coffee every morning, you need to wash it every night but you have to wash it by hand. The force of the water in your dishwasher can actually get between the mug’s outer and inner layers and that can cause odors and mold and really some yucky things. And if you don’t have something that’s transparent, you can’t see that any of this is going on and it’s really a gross discovery. I’ll tell you that.

    TOM: Yep. And finally, anything made of wood doesn’t belong in the dishwasher, like cutting boards or wood bowls. Wood is porous and it will actually absorb soap and other germs. Plus, all that heat – well, eventually it’s going to cause the wood to crack and split. Then you’ll have to throw it away.

    LESLIE: Martha in Ohio is on the line with a leaky door and a leaky window. What is going on?

    MARTHA: We had some sliding-glass doors in our family room that’s paneled. And we had them taken out and we wanted just a picture window in there. So, when they came to do the picture window, they took the door out – the sliding doors out – and the foundation was like, oh, maybe a block or two up and the door had been left empty down lower.

    So, what they did was they took 2x4s – I think it was wood – and built up to the block level and then proceeded to put in the supports for the window. So, now, when it’s – I made a flower bed out there and now, when the ground gets real saturated and water tends to puddle there, collect, it runs under the wood, through the wood.

    TOM: Right. Not surprised and – well, so it sounds like instead of building the foundation up with concrete block, which is what they should have done, they sort of filled it in with wood framing. Is that correct?

    MARTHA: Yes, yes.

    TOM: Yeah. Probably wasn’t the best choice.

    MARTHA: Can we seal that or do we need to start over?

    TOM: Well, you know, it’s kind of hard to advise that you seal something that was never done right to begin with. It really should have been a concrete block. But having said that, if you are going to trap that much water against the foundation, whether it’s a wood patch or a concrete block, it’s still going to leak. You just can’t hold that kind of water against the foundation.

    We advise against this all the time, Martha, because those sorts of planters and anything else that holds water against a house is just not a good idea, especially in an area like Ohio where you’ve got a pretty significant freeze/thaw cycle.

    MARTHA: Yes.

    TOM: Because if that water that saturates the soil – that soil freezes, it’s going to push inward on that wall and weaken the basement wall. So, I would recommend, if you are going to have a planter, that you’ve got to have some drainage in there so that the water does not puddle up. Because if you do trap it against the wall, regardless of how that wall is built – even though it wasn’t repaired correctly – it’s going to leak and it’s going to cause damage. So I think the issue, really, is what you did after the fact more so than what they did to install the picture window. OK?

    MARTHA: Oh, OK, OK.

    TOM: Good luck.

    MARTHA: Well, thank you so much.

    LESLIE: Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Still to come, if you’re planning a big construction project and need to choose a contractor, do you know what questions that you should be asking? We’re going to have some tips, coming up.

    TOM: Plus, if you see a crack, does it always spell structural trouble? We’re going to tell you how to sort the serious from the cosmetic, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us, right now, with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT or post it to the Money Pit’s Community section at

    LESLIE: Alright. And right here in the post section, we’ve got from Vicky in Hawaii who writes: “We’re about to interview two different contractors who are willing to build our house. What are the important questions we should be asking when meeting with these pros and how do we know we’re getting the same pricing for the same things?”

    TOM: That’s a great question, Vicky.

    Now, since you’re building a house, I’m going to presume that you have an architect. And the architect …

    LESLIE: I hope so.

    TOM: I hope you do, right? The architect should’ve given you a set of plans that very, very specifically lists out every single thing that’s going into that house. That’s critical.

    Those specifications are so important whether you’re building a house, folks, or whether you are just hiring a pro to install a new toilet. I don’t care if the job is big or small. If you have a specification – you decided what products are going into this project – and you use that spec when you’re talking to different contractors, you can be assured that they’re all bidding apples to apples. If not, you never know what you’re going to get.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Really. You can just guess – so much comes from loose conversations. So if you have everything in specific writing, then you know exactly you’re getting the same bids.

    TOM: Well, if you spot a crack in your wall or your ceiling, does it always spell deeper trouble? Well, not usually. Leslie explains why, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.


    LESLIE: Yeah. If you notice a crack in the wall or ceiling, don’t panic. Although it probably seems very concerning to you, you need to realize that usually, it’s a sign of function of age or movement of the home rather than a sign of a real structural problem. Just because of time, as your home ages, a home is going to settle. A plain patch or just spackle is going to fall out because it can’t fill and hold the gap and that movement. So it’s like something that may have spackle in it, it’s going to move slightly and then it’ll fall out.

    So now, the best way for a homeowner to fix it is to use a strong, perforated drywall tape. Now, this type of tape has large squares and it really kind of looks like a sticky netting. You want to apply this first and that’s going to bridge the gap or the crack on the wall. Then you want to smooth a generous amount of spackle or mud over it.

    Now, once that area is dry, you can sand it. You might have to do a couple of layers but you want to keep everything nice and smooth and let things dry first in between layers before you sand again. And then once you’re happy with it, then repaint it.

    Now, Tom, I know that there’s some instances where we see a crack that could be of a concern. But generally, the ones that occur around window frames, doorframes, where a ceiling meets a wall, those things are just movement, correct?

    TOM: That’s true, because those are the weakest parts of the wall. So around those doorframes, those archways, we typically do see cracks inside and outside the house. The thing is if you see a crack that’s brand new – and the problem with that is every time you see a crack, it could’ve been there for years.

    This just happened to me with my mom, OK? There were some cracks that were above her kitchen sink that I’m telling you must have been there for 30 years. But she just never noticed them before. And I made a trip down there because I love seeing my mom and I took a look. And you know what it was? It was where the piece of metal trim, the corner bead was kind of a little bit loose and some of the spackle had flicked off a little bit. It was no big deal but it was probably there for forever. But she just noticed it, so therefore it’s new to her.

    But if it’s really new and if you can see progressions, movement over time, that’s when your concern should be a bit greater. And when that happens, I’d say you have two options. If you’re really concerned about it and you want to get a professional to look at it, bring in a professional home inspector because they’re not employed to sell you repair work. They’re just doing inspections.

    And if it turns out that you really do need to make the repair, bring in a structural engineer because the engineer can analyze the situation, design the repair. Then you can get bids to have it fixed and the structural engineer can come back and certify it was done correctly. This way, when it comes time to sell your house, nobody is going to question whether or not the repair was done well.

    Well, OK. Coming up next time on The Money Pit, if you’re planning a paint project, all paintbrushes are not created equal. We’re going to tell you how to choose the paintbrush that’s best for you and the job you’re doing, 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.

    (theme song)

    (Copyright 2017 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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