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    As it warms up out comes the yuckiest of pests - the cockroach. Here are 5 things you didn't know about that vile bug… 5 Things you didn't know about the cockroach, plus a bonus tip on their removal… - Cockroaches can live without their heads for up to a week, eventually dying of thirst. - The roach can live for up to a month without food. - Cockroaches can run at a speed of 3 miles per hour, which is just about the average walking speed of a human. - Cockroaches have been found to be one of the top asthma triggering allergens in the home. - Roaches can hold their breath for as long as 40 minutes. Bonus segment. Want to remove the cockroach from your premises. These ideas may help… Identify all cracks, crevices and holes. These are places that harbor cockroaches. Seal as many of these holes and cracks as possible. Spray the cracks and crevices with Dinotefuran.: It’s easier to say when you aren’t trying to say it into a microphone. Pest control professionals use Alpine Pressurized Insecticide, which is an aerosol can that they use to treat cracks and crevices on the interior of homes. This is a great product to use for roaches in the kitchen or general insects inside a home.
  • Q- I am planning on expanding my house by finishing my basement and perhaps adding a room onto the back. How much can I add with my current hvac system? Bucky in Johns Creek A - Not much. Heating and air conditioning systems are sized by the livable square footage of a house. That probably doesn't include an unfinished basement, and it certainly doesn't include an addition. An under-sized unit will perform inefficiently and will be costly. Your favorite heating and air company should offer, for free, to come out and size your house and give you an exact answer. One of the possible solutions for adding more ummph to your current system would be adding a smaller system just for the basement. This is something you will need to decide on before your finish the basement as you will want to run the ductwork before completing the walls. Your extra room could then be nicely controlled by a mini-split (such as a Mr. Slim unit made by Mitsubishi). It is also possible to include a system for your basement and your addition. Your HVAC company will easily be able to measure the size unit you need and give you estimates.
  • Q - We enjoy our deck, but the metal deck furniture looks a little on the ragged side. I would prefer not to spend the money on new, how can I make it look good again? Alan in Dunwoody A - Fortunately, refinishing your metal deck/patio furniture is easier than you think, and it will make a world of difference when it comes to enjoying your backyard. Here is the play by play on making your metal furniture look spiffy again: - Remove all the rubber tips from the legs and cushions. - Wash and rinse the furniture thoroughly using a mild detergent. - With a wire brush, scrape off all the rust and the loose flakes of paint. If you have places with paint 'bubbling' up on the furniture use a screwdriver to remove the bump then wire brush it clean. - Once you are done with the scraping, use a commercial rust remover to remove all the rust. Now the fun part. Paint or spray the furniture with the rust-resistant paint. If the furniture is really corroded you may want to use a rust-resistant primer first. Note - you don't have to use black. What were once 4 black chairs and 2 black end tables on my deck are now 2 red chairs, 2 yellow chairs, and two tables with a color that is in the blue family, I think. Now just let it dry – up to 24 hours for each coat depending on weather and paint instructions. Then replace rubber tips and cushions and bingo – new patio/deck furniture. If you take the time to do proper preparation, your job may well last a couple three years. And at 105 hamburgers and hot dogs per year per person, that is a lot backyard enjoyment!
  • With warmer temperatures comes the prospect of actually doing something fun outside, like enjoying your deck. That means it is once again time to wonder if your old buddy, the deck, needs sealing. Now I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that sealing your deck is on the list of fun things to do right behind picking your mother-in-law up at the airport.  I know you would rather be sitting in front of your big screen television watching the Gilligan’s Island marathon than out working on your deck , but take heart – a few hours of work with relatively no heavy lifting on your deck  will give you a deck  that will last through another season of grilling out and sipping mai tais.  First of all, your deck may not even need to be sealed. Here’s how to tell: simply drip water on the deck. If it beads, then your deck does not need to be re-sealed. Yes, your deck could be old and grungy, but if it still beads water then more than likely it only needs to be cleaned. Cleaning is easy. You can use a product like Deck Brite, or a deck cleaner from Behr, Jomax, or Olympic and clean the deck with little trouble. Be sure to read and follow all label directions. Simple enough, but what if the water didn’t bead? Then you may miss an episode or two of Gilligan. It will probably be the episode where the castaways have a plan to get rescued but then Gilligan messes it up. I know. That’s your favorite one… So let’s say you have to do some sealing – and you really should at some point because it will help your deck last longer. Here is what you need to know: - Protection. Protection for you means goggles and rubber gloves while you are working with the stripper and the stain or sealer. You must also protect your plants and vegetation around the deck. This means soaking the plants to help dilute anything that maybe come in contact with them, and then cover with plastic. - Stripping. Not you. Believe me; no one wants to see you working on your deck with your shirt off, especially the last week of March or the first week of April. It’s also good to use a stripper even if most of the deck doesn’t need it just so the whole deck will be at the same starting point. - Purchase a quality stain/sealer stripper from your favorite hardware store. No matter how big of a man you are, please be sure to read and follow all label directions. After applying the stripper be sure to rinse off with plenty of water (to help dilute the stripper as it goes into your yard). Let your deck dry and give it the water test again. Repeat this whole step again if necessary – that is if water still beads. For reasons that will become evident later, when stripping it is important to strip the entire deck. Allow your deck some time to dry. Maybe here you can catch an episode or two of Gilligan’s Island, or if you’re really lucky maybe Hogan’s Heroes will be on (fyi - Kinch has a radio in the coffee pot). Now your deck is ready for staining/sealing. - Sealing. Find a nice semi-transparent stain from your favorite hardware store and again, (I sense a theme here) read and follow all label directions, applying with a roller. Work in small areas, applying the second coat BEFORE the first coat dries. Why? Because if you allow the first coat of SEALANT to dry, guess what it does to the second coat? That’s right, it seals it out there by not allowing your second coat to soak in and dry. That second coating of sealant is very, very, very, very, very difficult to remove. It will also be very, very, very, very, very slippery. If you don’t believe me, call my brother-in-law.  Let dry. - Clean up. Wash your hands and rinse the tarps covering your vegetation. Throw away the roller you used during application. Fold the tarp and store in your crawl space. Place the unused cans of sealant and stripper in a well-ventilated area. Wipe your feet before you step on the carpet. Hang your hat on the hat rack you got for Christmas 7 years ago but have never used. Put your clothes in the hamper. Hang up the towel you stole from the Hampton Inn and wipe up any water on the floor around the shower. Don’t wear the striped shirt with the plaid shorts or the black calf length socks with sandals (you know who you are). There, your deck is good to go for the entire season. You may want to give it the old water test again in 6-8 months, but as your deck gets older you will have to do it less. And that’s good news. Enjoy Gilligan.
  • Q - I hear people talk about 'termite letters' all the time. What exactly are they talking about? Neil in Lithonia A - A termite letter is a report that a pest control company will create after doing an inspection of a house. Some states have actual forms that this is supposed to follow by state law.  Georgia is a prime example - they have the 'Official Georgia Wood Infestation Report' which is required for any home sale in the state. The termite inspection letter will disclose everything that was found by the inspector, whether the house is currently infested with termites or has been in the past, and will also usually note if any parts of the house were inaccessible for inspection. If you are the buyer, your bank may require you to have a termite letter before you close on your house. There can be restrictions, and they may require it to have been within a certain time period before the loan closes (so they essentially 'expire').  One very important piece of advice: get your termite letter done in advance of the closing date.
  • Q - We have a small drip in our kitchen faucet and have your years actually. My wife says to fix it, but I say it's so small it's not hurting anything. Your thoughts? Dan in Hampton A - I say listen to your wife. Fix it. Your little leak could be as simple a fix as a new washer or gasket, but it could be the sign of something larger such as a faulty faucet. Small leaks and constant drips add up. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average home loses thousands of gallons of water to leaks each year. The EPA estimates repairing water leaks can save as much as 10 percent on utility bills. (Incidentally, March 16 – 22, 2020 is recognized by the EPA as Fix-A-Leak-Week.) Your water leak is easy to identify. Other leaks are not so easy to spot, but you should check for leaks on a regular basis. Here are some easy ways to see if you have water leaks in your home: Examine your faucets for drips and inspect the pipes under your sinks to ensure there are no leaks around the connections.   Drop food coloring in your toilet’s tank. If after 30 minutes the water in the bowl starts to change colors, then you have a leak. This can usually be corrected by replacing the toilet’s flapper. Probably best not to use yellow.   Inspect your floors, ceilings and walls for discoloration or warping. These obvious signs can be the first indication of a damaging leak, and the source should be immediately identified and addressed.    Review your previous water bills. If there are large fluctuations between bills, you may have a leak.   Check your water meter. If you have turned off all water in the house, and the meter still moves, then there is likely a leak in the system.   So at least in this case, listen to your wife. She will actually be saving you money.   This time.
  • Believe it or not DIY pest control may not be your best plan of action. Here are 5 reasons why not… 5 Reasons why you to use a professional exterminator:  - Identifying the potential hidden infestations. They know where bugs hide, do you? - To promote safe usage of dangerous, toxic pesticides. Your trained pros know what to use, how to apply it, and how to dispose of the extra. They will also know what to use to kill the pests, but will leave other bugs and bees alone. - Using the method most conducive to killing pests. Some poison that kills ants in the spring feeds them in the fall.  - Save you money. What's worse than your home application of pest killer not working? Going back and forth to the store 4 times and still not finding a suitable pest control method. Get it done correctly, the first time.  - Home protection. Proper preventative pest control lessens the chances that you will need home repair later.
  • Q – Since it feels like we have gotten about 10 ft of rain with temps in the 60’s and 70’s lately, is it time for those bugs and pests to start coming out? Sara – Statham A – Well no real good news to report to you at this time. The warm weather can bring about the presence of mosquitoes. When the temps hit around 70, that’s the magic number to get them in the air. The rain will lead to fire ants – I am already seeing fire ant mounds all over the place, and as usual termites are out looking for an unprotected house to settle into. The rain is what is driving this a little more than the temps. Bugs, pests, critters all need water. That’s what they are all looking for during the winter. To have had so much of it fall from the sky in the past months is just what the bugs are seeking. That makes this a perfect time to hook up with your exterminator and begin start a quarterly treatment plan and make sure that the liquid termite (Termidor) treatment is current around your home. Also a quick word if you are considering having a mosquito treatment applied on your yard this summer.  The poison (poison is a harsh word, but it only kills skeeters) used has no real residual effect and is active for about 30 days after it is applied, so schedule your treatments accordingly. Also look for companies that will come back out to your house and re-apply the treatment if it rains on the day of your treatment or the next day free of charge. In pest control, prevention is way better than reaction, so be on your toes…
  • Q – As I walk around the ground and look at my 15 year old roof I don’t see any issues with it. How can I be sure it won’t leak soon? Bob – Alpharetta A – You can’t be sure it won’t leak soon, especially at that age. Especially from the ground. Especially with your eye-sight. However, here are a few things you can do. You can have a roofing professional fly drones and walk on your roof taking pictures of anything bad or in poor condition. You don’t want to have just anyone doing this so stick with a major roofer. They must have insurance and workman’s comp before they set foot on your roof and must have that paperwork with them that proves it. All this work should be done for free, no obligation, no charge. You should also stick your head up in your attic while it is raining and take a look around. That is the best time for leaks and it seems to rain almost every day this time of year so this should be no problem. If you find a leak, and you may, get a plastic container – a large plastic container – and place it under the drip. I know that sounds obvious, but do it any way just for me. Rain water can take a long time before it appears in the living area of your home – so help stop that flow. Then call a roofer immediately and get on their list for an inspection, repair, or replacement. As usual, get quotes from reliable roofers only. In a good economy everybody is a roofer. You don’t want everybody to be on your roof. Get quotes, look at past work, how long have they been in business, do they have their insurance papers, do they drive nice company vehicles, have you heard of them – all important to the process. Good luck. At 15 years your roof is borderline on extra credit.
  •  You hear and read a lot about maintenance agreements and extended warranties, so much so that you probably get confused as to which is which and should you bother with any of them. Let’s see if I can help clear it up. An extended warranty is something you pay for in case your product goes bad. You can then get a little relief with repairs and perhaps a small percentage off the price of a new unit. Often, extended warranties are costly and are something to avoid. They can sometimes cover the same time period as your products warranty, which makes them a waste of money. A lot of the time if you would just bank the money the seller wants for an extended warranty, you will have plenty of money for repairs and/or replacement models. You will hear consumer gurus telling you that extended warranties are bad. I concur. A maintenance agreement on the other hand, is something that you renew every year and comes with a tangible benefit. You mostly hear of maintenance agreements in the field of heating and air, plumbing and electrical work for your home. For an example, let’s look at a heating and air maintenance agreement. In this agreement you pay a set amount each year. (In the Atlanta market if you are spending more than $158 per system per year then you are spending too much. Also, look for discounts on the second and third system if you have them.) The company you purchase the agreement from will then come to your house twice a year, once in the spring to tune-up your air conditioner, and once in the fall to tune-up your furnace. Or vice-versa depending on when you purchase your agreement. The agreement is for 12 months and in addition to the two tune-up calls you will often also get a discount on parts and service should you need them, and you will generally be on a preferred customer list in case of emergencies, which is nice. The agreement must be renewed every year (unless you buy a multi-year agreement) and, here’s a tip: if I were purchasing a new hvac system I wouldn’t sign on the dotted line until I had at least 2 years of free maintenance included in the deal, and even then I would ask for 3. Plumbing deals and electrical deals all work in the same fashion. Value for your money. It’s always a great trade-off. Some extended warranties can be dressed up to look like maintenance agreements, just like some hvac lease offers can be drawn up to look like new purchases so beware.  One last note – if your hvac system is over 10 years old and you do not have a maintenance agreement you are pushing the envelope for. Often years can be added to the life of a system with proper care and maintenance, and now would be the time to jump on board.

News

  • Residents of several communities have come up with a fun way to keep kids entertained while school is out. Cities and towns such as Boston, Walpole, Haverhill, Leominster and others have organized “bear hunts,” where residents place teddy bears in their windows so kids can drive or walk around spotting the bears. “As we take our daily walks, we look at everybody’s windows to see if we can find a teddy bear,” said Candida Shepard, a mother. Shepard’s 4-year-old twins, Payton and Ayden, have taken up the fun activity in their Hyde Park neighborhood as more neighbors join in on the fun. “We saw the teddies in the window,” said Payton. The “bear hunts” are inspired by a children’s book, and residents can add their streets to a map on social media that parents use to trace the route they will take their kids on walks or drives, looking - at a safe distance - for the bears displayed in the windows. “It’s something nice to chime in about rather than something dismal, which is going on right now,” said Mary Francis, who put a teddy bear in her window. The Shepard twins’ grandmother placed teddy bears in her window, enjoying the cheer they bring to the youngest neighbors who have been home from school and stuck in the house. “People are actually walking by with a big smile on their face,” said Francis. Kids and adults alike are entertained and uplifted by the sight of the bears in the windows, a heartwarming illustration of how communities are doing everything they can to take care of each other. As volunteers step up to produce masks and donate supplies to medical workers, initiatives like the bear hunt aim to help keep people’s mental health strong. Something as simple as a teddy bear on a windowsill can be the light in someone’s day. As the twins write encouraging messages for others to stay hopeful during a scary time with their mom, a health care worker, they’re also thinking of their family in Italy. The country has been hit the hardest by the virus, where the outbreak has been the most rampant. “Stay safe from the ‘Canola’ virus,” Ayden wrote. If you want to participate, just search in your local community’s Facebook group to find a bear hunt near you.
  • With more states imposing “safer at home” and quarantine orders because of the coronavirus, families and friends are searching for ways to stay connected. Sure, the telephone works, but more people are using video apps for face-to-face contact. It’s a good way for older citizens to connect with grandchildren without worrying about coming in contact. While hugs may be precious, people are becoming more aware of staying isolated. There are plenty of ways to connect. Here is a look at 12 video-chatting applications: Zoom: This app appears to be geared toward business, but families can use Zoom too. Users initiating a meeting are taken to a virtual room that looks like a table in a conference room. Personal groups of up to 100 people can meet online for free. Business options include packages for sale that allow up to 1,000 participants. Facebook Live: Viewers can connect in real-time from their cellphones, computers and even through their television set. FaceTime: This app, though the Apple store, allows users to make video and audio calls to groups of up to 32 people. FaceTime is available on Apple products including iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Facebook Messenger: Similar to FaceTime, Messenger allows free video calling around the world for individuals or groups of up to six. It can be used on cellphones, tablets and computers. Skype: This app has been around for a while. Skype can accommodate groups of up to 50 people worldwide, It can be used on computers, mobile devices, XBox One and even smartwatches. WhatsApp: More than 2 billion users take advantage of the WhatsApp. The mobile app works on Android and iOS platforms, making it a good choice for people with friends owning diverse types of devices. The free app allows groups of up to four users per session. Tango: You know the old phrase. It takes two to Tango, and this app restricts video contact to two people. This free app is good but only two! The free app is good for video calling one other person at a time. You can also make voice calls, send messages and play games using Tango. Google Hangouts: This app is free in its basic form. Google Hangouts allows up to 10 participants at a time. You can even video chat through your Gmail accounts. Instagram: Up to six people can video chat at once via Instagram. Houseparty: This video chat app is owned by Epic Games, which developed Fortnite. Houseparty allows people to play video games or test trivia skills through its interface. It is available through Android, iOS, MacOs and Chrome. Snapchat: With Chat 2.0, Snapchat users can use a full, featured video chat service. Snapchat is free to use, but can chew up a lot of data time. It is recommended to connect to a wireless network before making your call. Viber: The Viber app is good for international calls and one-on-one video calls. Calls between Viber users are free, but a fee will apply for calling people without the app.
  • Tom Coburn, a former U.S. senator from Oklahoma known as a conservative political maverick, died after a battle with prostate cancer, according to The Associated Press. He was 72. Coburn retired from the Senate in 2015 after being diagnosed with cancer. He served two terms from 2005 to 2015, KOKI reported. “Oklahoma has lost a tremendous leader, and I lost a great friend today,' U.S. Sen. James Lankford said in a statement. “Dr. Coburn was an inspiration to many in our state and our nation. He was unwavering in his conservative values, but he had deep and meaningful friendships with people from all political and personal backgrounds. He was truly respected by people on both sides of the aisle.” In the Senate, Coburn was the ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security and also served on the committees on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; and Intelligence. From 1995 to 2001, Coburn represented Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. A family physician, Coburn was a member of the Committee on Commerce, where he sat on the subcommittees on Health and Environment as vice-chairman, Energy & Power, and Oversight and Investigations. Coburn was also selected co-chair of the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS in 2001. Services for Coburn have not been announced, KOKI reported.
  • Florida senior citizens who live in a downtown Orlando high-rise flickered the lights of their apartments Friday in a show of support for the doctors and nurses who are trying to thwart the spread of the coronavirus. Residents of Westminster Towers flickered their apartment lights at 9 p.m. to show support for the medical professionals working at Orlando Health. “Tonight, we flashed all of our lights to show our thanks to the hero health care workers at Orlando Regional Medical Center as they work hard to treat the sick and keep us safe from COVID-19,” Westminster Towers said on Facebook. “Thank you.” The display could be seen from the hospital campus, which is near the apartment building. “Thank you (Westminster Towers) for lighting up the night and our hearts,” the hospital network said on Facebook. “We’re all in this together.”
  • The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Georgia climbed to 2,366 Saturday as the state’s death toll reached 69. Since Friday evening, the confirmed number of Georgians who have died as a result of COVID-19 increased by four, according to the latest data from the Georgia Department of Public Health.  » COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia Health officials also confirmed an additional 168 cases since the 7 p.m. update. Of Georgia’s overall cases, 617 people remain hospitalized, a rate of about 26%, according to the state’s noon figures.  Fulton County still has the most cases with 373, followed by DeKalb with 240, Dougherty County with 205, and Cobb with 181.  As of Monday, the number of confirmed cases across the state was fewer than 1,000 Since Friday evening, Fulton has 26 new cases, while DeKalb has 21 more and 18 more people tested positive in Cobb. Four counties also reported their first cases, including Murray, Walton, Jenkins and Pike.  » MORE: City under siege: Coronavirus exacts heavy toll in Albany A total of 11,051 tests have been conducted so far in Georgia. About 21.4% of those returned positive results. On Friday afternoon, the DPH started releasing data on where people died. Dougherty County leads the count with 13 deaths, followed by Fulton with 12, Cobb County with eight, and Lee County with five. About 2.9% of Georgians who have tested positive for the highly contagious disease have died. » DASHBOARD: Real-time stats and charts tracking coronavirus in Georgia For most, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms. Older adults and those with existing health problems are at risk of more severe illnesses, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover in a matter of weeks. As numbers spike across the state, Gov. Brian Kemp is urging Georgians to stay home and practice social distancing. At a town hall broadcast Thursday evening, Kemp told residents to heed directives to avoid more restrictive measures, such as a statewide stay-at-home mandate. » RELATED: Kemp urges Georgians to heed virus warnings but balks at drastic steps Bars and nightclubs remain closed across the state, many public gatherings are banned, and the elderly and medically fragile are ordered to shelter in place. » PHOTOS: Metro Atlanta adjusts to shifts in daily life amid coronavirus crisis Many metro Atlanta cities and counties have issued their own stay-at-home orders to residents, shutting down nonessential businesses and imposing curfews. » MORE: DeKalb County issues stay-at-home order Speaking on CNN Saturday morning, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said metro Atlanta’s hospitals are already nearing capacity.  “...We are a large urban city in an even larger metropolitan area, so on a good day our hospitals and our ICU beds are at a premium,” she said. “What people have to realize is strokes don’t stop, diabetes and these things that send people into our emergency rooms, these things continue. It’s stressing our health care system and you add this pandemic on top of it and we have a real problem of it brewing right here in Atlanta.” » RELATED: Bottoms: Stay home so others ‘have an opportunity to simply live’ Those who believe they are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 are asked to contact their primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic. Do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or health care facility. Georgians can also call the state COVID-19 hotline at 844-442-2681 to share public health information and connect with medical professionals.  — Please return to AJC.com for updates.
  • He has been a prominent face during the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefings. Now, Anthony Fauci’s face is prominently featured on doughnuts in a New York shop. According to WHAM-TV, Donuts Delite, in Rochester, introduced the sweet treat Monday as a tribute to Fauci, 79, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a doctor for the National Institutes of Health. Nick Semeraro, owner of Donut Delites, said his employees have made “thousands” of doughnuts, the television station reported. “We wanted to find a way to cheer up the people in our neighborhood,” Semeraro told CNN. “We noticed Dr. Fauci on (television), and we loved his message and how thorough he was, and how he kept everyone informed during the crisis... so we wanted to give back and say thanks.” The shop printed Fauci’s face on edible paper and put it on top of a buttercream-frosted doughnut, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported. Fauci’s image was then encircled with frosting decorated with red, white and blue sprinkles, the newspaper reported. “Right now, we’re selling over 100 an hour at least,” Semararo told WHAM. “We had no idea they would blow up like that. “It just started as a tribute,” Semararo told the television station. “It started as a thank you. It’s sticking, and I think it’s great. People are stuck at home and what’s happening is, it’s starting conversations. Whether they pick it up for someone, it starts that thinking outside of the box and giving back.” Semararo said he would continue to make the doughnuts as long as there is a demand. “I never met a guy that worldwide (who) is so loved,” Semeraro told CNN. “And a month ago, we never knew his first and last name... His political agenda is medical. It’s facts ... the American public needs facts now.”