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Dishonest Waterproofing Company

I'm selling my house. The buyer had a mold remediation specialist in to check for mold. They are also a waterproofing company. We subsequently got slapped with a report that stated we had an ongoing water problem in basement, and that a full french drain system is needed (we already have a french drain leading to a sump pump - no mold found btw, and the original inspection said the basement was dry). I will be speaking with the waterproofing company soon. What questions can I ask to make sure the company clearly articulates the issue and reason for suggested remediation?

Our Answer

This scenario has conflict of interest written all over it!  First off, you are dealing with one of the most disreputable groups of contractors in the remodeling industry. Waterproofing company contractors ALWAYS recommend expensive solutions to wet basement problems that are almost always easily fixed with simple improvements to grading and gutter drainage.   And they do so by panic peddling an expensive solution, that is almost never needed.  They'll tell you your home will essentially collapse underfoot unless your get out your checkbook -- and fast.   

More recently, this slippery sub-section of the home improvement industry have also declared themselves "mold experts" which is rarely the case.  If pressed, I'd be shocked if they could produce any credible example of a certification, license, or degree that would truly qualify them as mold remediation experts.

In your case, it's even worse since it sounds very much like they are declaring a problem where none may exist. Plus, the solution they suggest is already installed!

My recommendation is to push back - hard - with the buyer. Let them know sending a contractor with a clear conflict-of-interest to proclaim a problem that will enrich their pockets isn't going to fly, especially when the very solution they recommend is already installed and where their own home inspector reported the basement as dry.  Tell them if they want to send in a State licensed structural engineer to do a proper inspection and submit a report signed and sealed by that engineer, you'll consider your options.  But otherwise, I'd refuse to do anything and find another buyer. 

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mosquito, trap

Best Bug Repellars?

Have you had any experience with electric ultra sonic bug repellers? If so do they work well for bug infestations?

Our Answer

I've never heard good things about so called "sonic" bug repellers of any kind.  Over the last two years however, I have become a very big fan of the DynaTrap Insect Trap.  Our home is located adjacent to wetlands where mosquitoes are very prevalent. Over the last two years I have used DynaTrap, we hardly had a single bite!

DynaTrap works differently than other mosquito products.  It emits a UV light that draws bugs close, and then CO(irresistible to mosquitoes) is released by the photo-catalytic reaction of Titanium Dioxide treated surfaces and UV-Light. Finally, a fan captures the insects and draws them into a screened in basket where they literally pile up.  If you get one, here's a tip -- plug it in and leave it on 24/7. Over time, it actually decreases the mosquito population, making it even more effective.

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gas stove, range, cooking

Electric to Gas Stove: Good Return on Investment?

We currently have an old electric stove and we are not sure if we should add a gas line and put in a gas stove. Would there be a good return on investment? Or, are electric stoves now more energy efficient and have more benefits than before?

Our Answer

Converting an electric to gas stove will result in a lower operating cost by about 26%, according to some gas conversion estimates, but like most things, its not that simple.  When factoring in the cost of a new gas stove appliance, it would take many, many years for any real savings to occur.  That said, since the electric stove is old and would need to be replaced soon anyway, now would be a good time to make the switch.

Other benefits would include reduced CO2 emissions and more precise control of your cooking temperature.  Plus, there may be rebates available from your local utility company.  My suggestion would be to contact the utility company next, and ask both about the rebates, as well as any costs to run the gas line to your home.  In my experience, so long as you are installing at least one gas appliance, there would be little to no charge from the utility company for hooking you up -- plus now you'll have another fuel option to consider when it comes time to replace your water heater or furnace too.

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