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 to help you on this – I think it’s pretty much the last weekend of spring, right? Isn’t summer just around the corner? It’s like the 20, what, 1st or so?
LESLIE: It really is. June 21st?
TOM: Yeah. So this could be it. If you’ve got a home improvement project, hey, we are here to help. It’s your last weekend to get it done before summer is officially here. Give us a call. We’d love to chat with you about what’s going on. Whether it’s home improvement, whether it’s a repair, remodeling, décor project, the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up on today’s show, when you were growing up, did you like to help your dad around the house? Well, it turns out that dads do more projects outside with kids than anywhere else. So we’re going to have tips for DIY projects kids can do with dads, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And speaking of outside projects, cutting the lawn might not be one of your favorite chores but it gets easier and your lawn will have fewer weeds if you do it right. Roger Cook, the landscape expert from This Old House, will be by with tips.
TOM: And there’s a new weapon in the war against mosquitoes. It’s a trap that you set up now and it starts working immediately to wipe out the mosquito population around your home. We’ll have those details, just ahead.
LESLIE: And all spring long, we’ve been giving away some of the great water-quality solutions from The Home Depot. And today, we’re featuring the GE Dual-Flow Water-Filtration System and filters worth almost $172.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?[radio_anchor listorder=”2″]LESLIE: Britney in Michigan is on the line with a foundation question. What is going on at your money pit?
BRITNEY: We had bought an old farmhouse back in July of last year that is just over 2,100 square feet. It was actually two homes combined into one. The back half of the house was built in the 1800s and has a cobblestone foundation. The back half of the house does not have a basement. It’s just a crawlspace. The previous owner had remodeled the house but in doing so, there was no support under any of the beams and the cobblestone is now – has been crumbling. And I guess what I’m asking is: what would be, you know, some ideas or the best way to go about replacing or repairing a cobblestone foundation that is so old?
TOM: OK. So the way you would repair a load-bearing foundation like that is the same, regardless of whether it’s brick or cobblestone or clay tile. And essentially, what it requires you do is to build temporary supports to hold up the house while that work is being done. In most cases, it’s a technique called “needle beaming.”
It’s called “needle beaming” because, basically, what the contractor will do is poke a hole in the foundation and then run beams through at strategic areas to be able to support pieces of the – or sections, I should say, of the exterior wall. And so they would run – imagine the holes being sort of poked through that foundation wall where a beam goes in and then there’s jacks on either end of it that lift up that piece of the wall. They don’t so much lift it up off the foundation as sort of take the pressure off the foundation. And then once it’s completely supported, then the foundation can be disassembled and rebuilt and put back together in that area.
It’s a pretty specialized work. It’s not the kind of thing that the average general contractor would do. And it is also probably something that you ought to have a structural engineer or an architect involved in. Because whenever you do major structural work like that, if you don’t have a licensed professional in it, it becomes a bit of a question mark – a big concern for people that are buying your house in the future. So if you get an engineer to design the repair and then have them inspect it after the fact, then you’ll know that it’s done right and you can present that documentation to any potential buyer in the future.
BRITNEY: Now, since we bought this home under a rural-development loan, which is obviously an FHA loan, there was an FHA inspector that came out. We received all the pictures with that. They have – pictures of the crawlspace were never included. So, she did not inspect the crawlspace. I don’t know – I don’t think that would’ve ever passed. There’s literally just a landscape rock under the middle main beam of the back half of the house and that was literally all that was supporting it.
I had been given an idea that one thing to maybe temporarily, at least, stop it from sinking any farther would be to build almost like if you were to rip up the floor and set almost footers – cement footers, if you will – under each joist in almost a grid pattern.
TOM: Yeah. Listen, I see a lot of that. I spent 20 years as a professional home inspector. I’ve seen a lot of that. And all that DIY stuff is fine. Usually, it doesn’t cause any harm but it’s not the answer to your problem.
The least that you should do is get professional advice, even if you don’t fix everything right now – is get professional advice by somebody that can do a real inspection of that area and tell you exactly what’s going to be required. And then, potentially, you could break up parts of that project and do it in stages. But I wouldn’t wing it on some advice from maybe some contractors that passed through or something you looked up online.
You really need to have a professional look at this to make sure you’re doing it right. You want to do it once, do it right and not do it again. And you’re just kind of swinging in the wind right now if you do it without that kind of advice.
BRITNEY: I had heard that possibly there were recommendations that you could maybe give for people.
TOM: Well, sure. The other option, if you can’t find an architect or an engineer and you just want to get another opinion – and it would probably be a little less expensive, although it’s not the kind of professional that could actually design this for you.
But what you could do is hire a professional home inspector, a very experienced one at that, which you’ll find if you go to the American Society of Home Inspectors’ website, which is ASHI – A-S-H-I. – I think it’s .com or .org. And there’s a Find an Inspector tool there. So you could pop in your local zip code and find certified home inspectors there. And they should be ASHI-certified.
And perhaps one of those you could hire to do a partial inspection of this structure and maybe that pro could give you some sense of direction on what really needs to be done here. But I think, ultimately, you’re going to end up talking to an engineer, OK?
BRITNEY: Yep. I’m just still floored that the inspector …
TOM: Yeah. Let me talk to you about that. Don’t feel too bad. What happened to you is pretty typical. FHA inspections are not the same as professional home inspectors. They are very cursory, more like an appraiser inspection than one that will really comment on the structural integrity of the building.
Those inspectors typically don’t have the same kind of training or experience. They use checklists: the light switch works, the light switch doesn’t work. They’ll never open up a panel to see if there’s burned wires in it. They’re probably not even going to fire up heating systems and cooling systems. They may not even open every window and door in the house.
So, those types of inspections, although people think that they’re really thorough, they’re really not. They’re extremely cursory. And it doesn’t surprise me in the least that that inspector would not go in a crawlspace. I’m sure they would also not go in an attic and even not go on a roof. But those are things that a professional home inspector would do.
BRITNEY: So then that would’ve been on us to get a professional home inspector.
TOM: That would’ve been on you. That would’ve been your choice. That’s right. Mm-hmm. Yeah, your expense and your choice.
So, I would start now if you haven’t had a good thorough inspection of that house. Maybe just have one done and see where you’re at. And it would include the foundation issues, as well. And you can really come up with a priorities list of to-dos that you could plan for moving forward, OK?
TOM: Alright. Good luck. 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 right here at 888-MONEY-PIT. 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: Hey, if you’d like to step up the water quality in your house, Home Depot has any solution you’ll need. And they’ve hooked us up with some of those water-quality products to give away this spring, like the new GE Dual-Flow Water-Filtration System and filters worth 172 bucks. We’ve got a water-quality solution just like that going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to the Community page at MoneyPit.com.
We’ll be back with more of your calls, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor. Ready to get that deck you’ve been dreaming of? HomeAdvisor will instantly match you with the right pro for the job for free. But give us a call, right now, for help with whatever it is you are working on. We’re standing by.
TOM: Plus, if you call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, you’ll also have a chance to win a water-quality solution from The Home Depot. We’re featuring, this hour, the GE Dual-Flow Water-Filtration System along with the filters.
You know, with dual-flow water filtration, you get filtered water direct from your kitchen faucet. It happens faster at about 1.1 gallons a minute compared to other systems. It’s also got a chrome filtration controller with a filter-replacement indicator sort of built right in so you’ll know exactly when it’s time to replace that filter. The controller easily turns that filtered water on and off. It’s going to reduce select pharmaceuticals, VOCs, lead, chlorine taste, odor and other contaminants that you do not want in your water.
It’s available online at HomeDepot.com but you can pick it up at your local Home Depot store, as well. One of you is going to get a water-quality solution just like that, though, sent out to you for free if you are the person that we pull from the Money Pit hard hat at the end of today’s program. So, give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.[radio_anchor listorder=”3″]LESLIE: Brice in North Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BRICE: I was considering using a polyethylene sheet to replace or repair the ceiling in my bathroom. And I wanted to know if that’s a good substitute for wallboard and what material to seal it up with.
TOM: When you say a “polyethylene sheet,” do you mean sheet plastic?
BRICE: I’ve used some of the material on the fascia board on the outside. I was told this came in a sheet.
TOM: It’s like a waterproof paneling, in essence. Is that what you’re saying?
BRICE: Yes, a panel. Yes.
TOM: I mean I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t use it if you like the look of it. It’s not necessary. You could make the repair with standard green board, which is a water-resistant drywall. Did you have to tear open the ceiling for some reason? Why are you replacing it?
BRICE: Well, we had a roof leak and …
TOM: The easiest thing to do would be to put a second layer, even if the drywall below is damaged – the existing drywall is damaged. But as long as it’s not swollen or deformed in any way, I would just put another layer of drywall right over that. That’s the easiest, fastest way to make that repair. And then you would tape, prime and spackle those corners between the two. This way, it looks normal because just putting a piece of plastic paneling up there, you’d have to trim it out. It’s going to look always a bit odd because that’s kind of a weird configuration.
I would just try to get it back to where it was. I would put a piece of water-resistant drywall up there. I would spackle it – three coats – prime it and paint the whole thing and you’ll never know that the leak ever happened.
BRICE: Very good. That helped.
TOM: Happy we could help you out, Brice. Good luck with that project. Thanks, again, for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, when you were growing up, did you like to help your dad around the house? I know I did. My dad had a great workshop down in the basement and I loved to help him with whatever projects he was working on. But you know what? It turns out that dads do more projects outside with the kids than anywhere else.
For the little guys, gardens really are a great place to start. Playing in the dirt is a natural, so start early to teach the kids that dirt isn’t just something that you have to scrub off in the tub. Give each kid his or her own space in the garden. Maybe they can plant a veggie that they like or one that you would like them to eat. And then you can all watch it grow together and enjoy the foods that you grow. Teaching your kids how the garden works and how the plants need help to grow really will keep them interested every step of the way.
TOM: Now, here’s another idea for outdoor projects, maybe for just a bit older kids, like raking or mulching or sweeping. You want to keep it simple and it can actually be whine-free if you set a timer. If you give kids a project, you set a time of maybe 15 to 30 minutes to get it done, they’re much more likely to stay focused. And even better yet, maybe step that up further with a little reward at the end. And then just start them off by explaining the task and getting everybody on board, set the timer and then push, go and watch the magic happen.
LESLIE: It’s true. But the whining factor, that really is key, Tom.
You know what else is so great about yard work is that it really builds togetherness. That’s a project that older kids can do, also, but it’s one that’s getting easier and safer thanks to the advancements in battery-powered yard tools. In fact, with the new brushless-motor technology that we’re seeing in a wide variety of tools today, we really need less power to do more work, meaning that you’re going to see batteries being used to power lawn mowers, string trimmers, backpack blowers, even chainsaws. So with the right supervision and instruction, kids can help dad accomplish just about any yard-care task on the to-do list.
TOM: And this Father’s Day Tip has been presented by Greenworks Tools, makers of the Greenworks Pro 60-Volt Cordless String Trimmer. Provides the power you need without the use of gas. You’ll get up to 40 minutes of runtime on a fully charged battery. It’s got a high-efficiency brushless motor. It’s engineered to provide power, torque, quiet operation and longer motor life and all at the convenience of a push-button start.
It’s available at Lowe’s and Lowes.com for 199. Learn all about Greenworks’ products at GreenworksTool.com. Greenworks, life gets easier.[radio_anchor listorder=”6″]LESLIE: Beverly in Missouri, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
BEVERLY: Well, I have a house that’s just been built a year-and-a-half ago but I have a covered patio. And my builder put cedar posts out there. The rest of my trim is all white. So I wanted to cover or paint the cedar but he’s telling me I can’t do it because I’ll rot them out. And I – that doesn’t sound right to me but I’m not sure.
TOM: So, what would you – in a perfect world, Beverly, what would you like to see on those cedar posts? Would you like them to be white and match the rest of the house?
BEVERLY: Yeah. All of my trim is white and so I would rather them be white. They’re a year-and-a-half old now, so they’re starting to turn this cedar look and get all dark.
TOM: Right. Are they kind of decorative?
TOM: OK. See, here’s what I would do. The first thing I would – I’m going to recommend a staining process. So, the first thing you’re going to do is prime them with an oil-based primer or a solvent-based primer. And then you’re going to stain them and I would use a solid-color stain. And the solid-color stain is not going to look like paint, so it won’t tend to peel; it’ll fade over time. But it’ll soak in really nicely. And you can get a white stain – a solid-white stain – and it’ll look quite attractive.
Painting wood does not cause it to rot; it prevents it from rotting.
LESLIE: It just requires a lot of repainting.
BEVERLY: Yeah. He said if I covered it or painted them, that it causes the moisture to pull to the base and then they rot.
TOM: I would disagree with that. I think if you stain them, you’ll find that they’re quite attractive and that the moisture will wick in and out just fine.
BEVERLY: Good. Thank you so much. I really appreciate this.
TOM: Good luck with that project. You’re very welcome.[radio_anchor listorder=”5″]LESLIE: Alright. Now, we’re going to talk to Tom who’s got a porch question. How can we help you today?
TOM (CALLER): I have a three-season porch, aluminum. And the inside, on the struts – not the panels themselves but the support struts that support them – I have like an oxidation or mineral deposit. And it’s white and I’m trying to figure out how to take it off.
TOM: Do you think it’s the result of a leak, Tom?
TOM (CALLER): Yeah, moisture building up. It’s not just in one spot. It’s all along the whole bottom strut, on the whole porch.
TOM: So if it’s a mineral deposit, the easiest way to get rid of that is with a vinegar – a white vinegar-and-water solution. Because the vinegar will melt the salts.
TOM (CALLER): OK.
TOM: Now, if that takes it off, great. It’s not going to stop it from reappearing. If that’s the condition, what you really need to do is look for ways to dehumidify that space. Because the moisture is going to continue to condense on that and form those deposits, even if you were to get it clean again.
The other product that you could think about using is called CLR – Calcium, Lime, Rust Remover. That’s another type of mineral-salt cleaner that’s a little bit stronger than vinegar and water but that will also work, as well.
TOM (CALLER): OK. That won’t take the – it’s anodized aluminum. It’s that brown, bronzed aluminum for a three-season porch. That won’t affect it? The CLR?
TOM: I don’t believe it will. But you could always try it in a – you know, they always say test a small area. But I think you’re going to find that the reaction of that material on the salts will just melt it away.
TOM (CALLER): OK. I’ll give that a try.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, it might not be your favorite household chore but mowing your lawn is really an important part of making sure that it looks good and stays healthy. We’re going to get some expert tips to keep it green from Roger Cook, the landscape expert on This Old House, after this.
JOE: Hey, this is Joe Namath. And if you want to move the ball on your home improvement projects, listen to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Give us a call now on The Money Pit’s listener line at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.
TOM: Just ahead, Roger Cook from This Old House gives us some tips on the right way to cut your lawn to cut back on your weeding in the process. And This Old House on The Money Pit is presented by the Citrus Magic brand of odor-eliminating air fresheners. They’re available in refreshing, long-lasting sprays, solids and exciting, new candles. Experience the magic of Citrus Magic Odor Eliminators today.[radio_anchor listorder=”1″]LESLIE: Alright. Now, we’ve got Laura in Michigan. Welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you?
LAURA: Hi. Well, I recently removed my – some carpeting from my bathroom floor. And it’s ceramic floor and I’m having a hard time getting some of the, I think – what is it? – glue and part of the back of the carpeting on – it’s still on the floor. Not a lot but I want to get it up. It’s mainly around the edges. And I thought maybe you had a way of doing that that would take less elbow grease, I guess.
LESLIE: Alright. So, Laura – and you’re trying to get rid of this adhesive from the carpet that was over ceramic tile, which is so crazy but at least you’ve got a nice, smooth surface that you can work with to try to remove the adhesive.
Now, some of the things that you could work with are citrus-based and there’s one called Citrus King Mastic Remover. And there’s actually a website you can go to: CitrusDepot.net. And if you go to that website, you can buy a trial container. I want to say it’s like $10 for a pint, so you can just try it out and see if that’ll do the trick. And that’s worth it and that’s a good product to use that’s not going to be stinky and it’ll be good to work with. I’d say give that a try and see how that works with the adhesive that’s from your carpet.
Well, it might not be your favorite household chore but mowing your lawn is an important part of making sure it looks good and stays healthy.
TOM: That’s right. And believe it or not, there is a right way and a wrong way to cut your grass. Here to help us sort it out is Roger Cook, the landscaping expert on TV’s This Old House.
ROGER: Thanks for having me.
TOM: Hey, it’s our pleasure. And let’s face it, it’s not the most popular home maintenance project but that said, I’ve actually heard that it’s not good to cut your lawn too frequently or too low. Is that correct?
ROGER: Too low is the big thing I see.
TOM: Now, why is that?
ROGER: Well, when you cut the piece of blade of grass, you actually cut the green off and all that’s left is an exposed stem that has no chlorophyll in it.
ROGER: So that can either die or take a real long time putting out green again and getting grown.
TOM: Well, that’s a good point. So the upper part of the blade of grass actually shades the stem below it and that’s really critical.
ROGER: Exactly. And if you – right. And if you below the growing point, then you have a really hard time.
LESLIE: So what’s the perfect formula? Do you – for frequency, for height? Or is it based on the type of lawn you have?
TOM: Yeah, because I think that a lot of people tend to want to cut it low thinking they’re going to get out of having to cut it for the next couple of weeks, yeah.
LESLIE: Stretch out their chore.
ROGER: Right. But that’s exactly the wrong reason to cut it low. Every type of grass has a height at which it likes to be cut. And then what they found is in the summer, especially, the longer you leave it, the more it shades itself and the more it keeps the roots from drying out.
LESLIE: So, how do you know what type of lawn you have? Take your blade of grass to your garden center and be like, “What is this?”
ROGER: Yeah, probably, unless you know. If you know it’s a bluegrass mix, then you can just consult either on the internet or your garden center.
TOM: Now, Roger, if there’s one thing that gives us lawn-mowing envy is staring at that beautiful criss-cross pattern on the Major League baseball field. How do you get that in your own backyard?
ROGER: Well, when you watch the World Champion Red Sox, you see how beautiful it is on the field? That’s all done with a roller. That gives it all that pattern. Not how they cut it, how they roll it.
TOM: OK. So it only happens for world-champion lawn.
ROGER: Right. World Champion Red Sox, right.
LESLIE: I was going to say, it’s amazing because when I watch the World Champion Yankees, their lawn is equally fantastic.
ROGER: I don’t think it’s quite as fantastic.
You know, we see a lot of patterns and things like that in these big fields. But what I like to see is you mow your lawn in different directions. Now, it’s not going to give you something like the pattern you see on a baseball field but you’ll still get a pattern in the lawn. But what I want you to do is mow it different directions every week.
ROGER: So, you start in a straight line. The next week, go at a 90 to that and then the next week, do a 45. And that’s going to keep you from getting actual ruts you can get from the lawn mower. I have one lawn that, the fourth week, we actually cut in a circle.
TOM: It’s a lot to keep track of.
ROGER: But it’s better for the lawn.
TOM: Now, Roger, are there any new innovations out there in lawn-mower equipment, either walk-behind or ride-on mowers that make this job, say, a bit easier?
ROGER: Oh, there’s a bunch of things out there: mulching mowers, battery-powered motors. But the biggest thing I think is the introduction of commercial zero radius-turn mowers into the residential market. So that you have a big lawn with a lot of curves or trees with circle beds around them, it makes it real easy to do the lawn quickly, properly and cut all those radiuses.
TOM: OK. And that’s a good point, because I remember driving the ride-on tractor that my dad had. We’d always have a pretty big swath around the tree.
LESLIE: That you couldn’t get to.
TOM: And you almost ended up kind of spinning out the back tires and digging ruts trying to get tighter than it would really want you to be. So the zero-turn makes a big difference.
ROGER: They’re designed to make that tight turn without ripping up the turf.
LESLIE: Now, a neighbor of ours, they’re sort of super-environmentally friendly and they’ve got a push mower, like a hand one, I guess: no power, no electricity. Is that better for the lawn or just better for Mother Nature?
TOM: Or better for you?
ROGER: It’s better for the person doing the work, that’s for sure. It’s for all of the above. It’s a great thing if you can get out there with one of those real mowers and do it. And that’s the way we all started years and years ago, before they introduced power. But think about how great it is for the environment and yourself to be out there doing that.
LESLIE: Any special maintenance to the blade there? Because I imagine they work a little harder, since you are doing all the work on it.
ROGER: Well, they – sometimes they need a little more touch-up than your average blade, because they are a different type of blade than that thick blade you have on the bottom of your lawn mower. But if you touch it up, you keep it sharp. And that’s a big thing we didn’t talk about yet: how important it is to have a sharp blade on your mower.
TOM: Now, how often do you have to sharpen your mower blade?
ROGER: I tell people I sharpen it – on the lawns that we’re doing – every week and they look at me and laugh. And the guys think it’s a joke. They once gave me a blade that had been grounded down to about 6 inches big.
It depends on what you hit.
ROGER: Think of it this way. If you slice that lawn with a sharp blade, it actually heals faster. If you cut it with a dull blade, it gets all these little fragments on the end. In the hot time – the hot season – you can actually see the lawn turn brown afterwards and it’ll take it longer to grow out.
TOM: So cut it, don’t club it.
ROGER: Exactly, yeah.
LESLIE: And what about edging and sort of trimming the lawn? I know that really creates a beautiful, crisp lawn that just looks so professional, whether you have a pro do it or you do it yourself. Do you do it first or do you do it after?
ROGER: I like to do it afterwards because if there’s a little place that was missed with the mower, I can just use my trimmer to clean that up.
TOM: Now, Roger, one of the worst moments in the lawn-mowing process is when you go to start it and it doesn’t happen: you pull the cord over and over again or you hit the key and nothing clicks. What’s the best way to maintain your mower between clippings so it’s always in good shape?
ROGER: The most important thing, beyond doing your spring startup – the spark plug, make sure the air filter is clean and it’s ready to go and it runs properly – is the gas. Too often, people leave the gas sitting around and it gets stale and it won’t fire. No matter how many times you pull on that cord or pull the choke or what you do, it won’t fire.
ROGER: So either get new gas and make sure it’s fresh or put stabilizer in that gas to make sure it will fire in your mower.
TOM: Great advice. Roger Cook from This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
ROGER: It’s been my pleasure.
TOM: And for more tips just like that, including a great video on the best way to mow a lawn, you can visit ThisOldHouse.com.
LESLIE: And you can watch Roger and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Lumber Liquidators. Hardwood floors for less.
LESLIE: Just ahead, there’s a new weapon in the war against mosquitoes. It’s a trap that you set up now and starts working immediately to wipe out those mosquitoes and their entire population around your home. We’ve got details, just a bit.
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: On another beautiful weekend. And now that the weather is warming up, you may have more opportunities to enjoy summer outside, especially in the evenings. But you probably have noticed that somebody else is out there just about now, too: the mosquitoes. And they are looking to take a bite out of you.
LESLIE: Yeah. And they’re usually biting me and the kids and pretty much everyone around us, which is just awful. So our next guest, John Rocha, is here. He’s a mosquito expert and he’s got a new idea on how to keep those mosquitoes away.
JOHN: Thank you both very much for having me.
TOM: So, John, you’re with DynaTrap and you guys – I’ve got to tell you, first off, I purchased your product last year, so I’ve had one summer’s worth of experience with it. And it was fantastic. I’ve had a wide variety of products in the past that ran on propane or electricity or the bug zappers, all that sort of stuff. And I have never had a product that’s been as effective as this DynaTrap.
But before I ask you how it works, I think it would be interesting to talk about how mosquitoes work, in the sense that they don’t really need a whole lot of water to find a nice nesting place around your house. And once they do find it, they lay those eggs pretty quickly and start stinging pretty soon there after that, right?
JOHN: That’s absolutely right. Well, first off, thank you so much for having me. And also, thank you again for, you know, trying our product. We’re so excited to be spreading the word about mosquito control and being able to use products that aren’t harmful for the environment and don’t use chemicals.
But you’re absolutely right as far as mosquitoes are designed to find their prey, which can be humans or any type of other creature or animal. And they’re also designed to find standing water. So they travel not very far distances – only about 100 yards in their lifetime – to find those two things. And that’s what they need to reproduce and to also irritate and annoy our live, that’s for sure.
LESLIE: Now, John, when you say “standing water,” are we talking a kiddie pool that’s filled up or just a little, tiny bit of water?
JOHN: First thing that we always advise folks is to get rid of any standing water on the property, right? So anything like a baby pool or flower pots. Anything that’s sort of avoidable is certainly choice to sort of remove from your property. But mosquitoes can lay eggs in as small as just a few droplets of water. So it’s hard to eradicate all standing water but certainly, major headway can be had by those types of steps.
TOM: Now, in addition to removing the standing water, of course, repellants are effective, as well, if they’re used according to label directions. And that can protect you when you leave. But when you’re home, the DynaTrap has done a really good job for us in trying to keep mosquitoes at bay. We have spent many a summer evening out in t-shirts and shorts and not really been affected by them whatsoever.
Talk to me about how the product works, because a lot of mosquito traps out there need a whole lot of maintenance and a whole lot of attention and they need different types of attractants added to them. What I like about what you guys have designed is that you don’t need any of that. You pretty much plug it in and walk away.
JOHN: That’s exactly right. So just for the audience to visualize, the DynaTrap sort of resembles your conventional bug zapper but it functions much differently. So all you’ve got to do is take it out of the box, plug it in about 20 to 30 feet away from your primary outdoor-living area and let it run, 24/7, during that peak season. And so while you’re letting that DynaTrap do its thing, it’s using a variety of different mechanisms in order to lure in insects, trap them and then get them off your property.
So the first thing that it does is it emits UV light. And that warm, thin glow of the UV light is irresistible to mosquitoes and other predatory insects. As they get closer and closer to the UV light, they also sense the carbon dioxide that’s emitted by the DynaTrap.
Now, a very unique thing about the DynaTrap is that it has a special coating on the interior. And when that’s exposed to UV light and decaying organic matter, it produces carbon dioxide. So you have the UV light, in addition to the carbon dioxide, that’s completely irresistible to mosquitoes. It makes them nuts. And so they get closer and closer. And then there’s a silent fan on the interior of the trap that sucks them right into a retaining cage where they dehydrate and die within 24 hours.
TOM: The product is called DynaTrap. You can learn more at DynaTrap.com. And if you’re interested in checking it out and you buy it at DynaTrap.com, you can actually enter the promo code MONEYPIT for a 15 percent-off discount on your purchase.
John Rocha, thank you so much for building a great product and for stopping by The Money Pit.
JOHN: My pleasure. Thank you both.
LESLIE: Hey, guys. It’s the number-one killer of children under five. We’re talking about pool drownings. We’re going to share some tips to help keep your pool safe, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question or post it online at MoneyPit.com. Our number is 888-MONEY-PIT, which is presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.
LESLIE: Well, now that summer is almost here, it really is the season for swimming and fun. And if you’ve got a pool in your backyard, a properly-designed pool fence is the most effective way to keep small kids from being in danger.
But Tom, pool fences really aren’t like any other type of fence. They are specifically designed especially to keep those kids out. And many times, people don’t realize that and put the wrong kind in.
TOM: Yeah, you’re absolutely right about that. I mean first, the fence height has to be at least 48 inches. And the spacing between chain links can only be 1¼ inches. Now, that’s so that kids can’t get a toe hold. You basically want a fence that’s non-climbable. And with typical, traditional chain-link fences, I think the space is about 2×2. But if it’s a much tighter weave, they can’t climb it.
Now, those fences are also required to have self-closing hinges so the gates can’t be accidentally left open. And even the latches are special. They usually have to be mounted on the top of the gate so you have to reach up at least – I think it’s actually 60 inches to unlock it. So, sometimes you’ll see those fences with a longer rail that goes up higher, with a latch on top that has to be pushed down.
So, basically, what I’m saying here is if you’re going to have a pool, you’ve got to have the right kind of pool fence to protect those kids. It’s all about layers of protection and fences are a really good place to start.
LESLIE: Yeah. That’s probably the best place to start. You want to stop them from even getting there before anything bad can happen.
Alright, you guys. If you’ve got any questions, we’re happy to answer those for you. And we’ve got one here from the Community section where Charlene writes: “What are the benefits of artificial versus real grass, considering cost, watering, sitting, playing on it and mowing?”
TOM: That’s really an interesting question because I don’t think a lot of people know that artificial grass actually exists. It’s been around a long time for sport fields but it hardly looked like a real lawn. Today, though, they do have artificial grass products that really look like the real thing.
Now, you mentioned some of the advantages in your question, Charlene, like maintenance. You never have to even own a mower again. But artificial is also a good choice for areas where drought is common, because you’re always going to have a green lawn regardless of whether you are allowed or able to water the lawn.
Now, the downside of having an artificial lawn is that, first, it’s expensive and that many homeowners claim it gets really hot and it’s super uncomfortable to walk on or even lounge out on, because you’re going to feel all that heat sort of radiating up. But like anything, there are good products that are out there and there are, of course, cheap products. But there are no good, cheap products.
So, I would also consider that, as well as how it impacts resale value. As much as you may like to have an artificial lawn, the next buyer of your home may not feel quite as warm and fuzzy about that and be very disappointed that they’re not going to have a lawn mower to push around every weekend. So, just be careful when you make those very personal decisions that make your property that much different than all those that surround it.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on this, the final weekend of the spring season. Are you ready for summer? Well, it starts this coming week.
If you’ve got questions on maybe how to keep cool this summer or a project you’d like to get done to improve your outdoor-living space or anything going on under your house or around your property, we are always available, willing and able to take those questions from you at 888-MONEY-PIT. Or you can always post them to The Money Pit’s Community section at MoneyPit.com. Thanks so much for spending this hour with us.
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.
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(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.)