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    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.
  • They said who what?!? Here are 5 myths about home repair… You may think that Friday the 13th being unlucky is a myth, but here are 5Things about home repair that are myths… - Laundry bleach is the best product to remove mold and keep it from returning… I will give you only partial credit if you believe this. To remove mold from anything that used to be alive (wood, wallpaper, drywall, etc…) you need hydrogen peroxide. Bleach works ok on stone and tile – which is why bathroom cleaners contain bleach – but as a do all bleach remover, it doesn’t stand up. - Cheese is the best bait for mouse traps… Cheese, as it turns out, isn't even one of a mouse’s Top-10 favorites. (Mouses? Mices? Meeses?). Try a combo of peanut butter and bacon. Mmmm mmmm mmmmm. - You should never paint stucco. Elastomeric paint is designed to be used on stucco. It expands and contracts and allows the stucco to breathe. - Duct cleaning is something that should be done regularly. If your definition of regular is ever 5-7 years, then I guess you got me there. But every year or two? Ummmm - no. Even a certified duct cleaner will tell you that… - Set back thermostats don't work because they make your system work too hard to catch up. Save it. Studies have proven beyond a doubt that the fuel savings during the setback period far outweighs the cost of raising the temp again. Setting the temperature to allow your hvac system to run less when you are out of the house and/or at night while you sleep can save you over 10% on your heating/cooling bill.
  • Believe me, been there, done that. We all have things around the home that while we know they would work better if we had them serviced, well, they are working now and that's good enough for me. A properly maintained appliance in your home can add years to its effective life, and all it takes in most cases is a phone call.  With our New Year's resolutions still fresh in our minds here are some things you absolutely need to have serviced this year… - HVAC system. Get a service contract and have your air conditioner inspected by a pro this spring and your furnace inspected by a pro this fall. Your systems will run more efficiently, your filters will be changed, and you will save money on your home energy bills. - Electrical system. Your electrical system will wear down over time. Get a whole house electrical inspection and make sure it includes your smoke and CO detectors. - Garage door. What? My garage door? You bet. It's the largest moving piece of equipment in your home and you rely on it every single day. The once over will do it a world of good, and you can get it done for under $100. - Septic tank. When's the last time you had your septic tank cleaned out? While it's not an every year job, it's something that you need to have done every 3 years. Think of it this way - when your a/c goes out you are hot, when your electrical goes out it's dark. What adjective best describes a bad septic situation? Exactly… - Water heater. You know the average life span of a water heater in this area is 7 years. How old is yours again? Right. Have a professional come out and check it out. Make sure they check the T&P valve and that you have an expansion tank.  While they are there have them check your home's water pressure. High pressure is the evil villain to the inner workings of your faucets and commodes. - Ducts. Your ducts work every day carrying the cool or warm air to the rooms in your house and return air and dirt back to your unit. Do yourself a favor a have them professionally cleaned. A good, professional cleaning will have you breathing better and can possibly cut down on the amount of dusting you have to do around the house. Extra good news - barring unforeseen circumstances you won't have to have them cleaned for another 5-7 years. - Roof. How long has it been since you had a roofing pro inspect your roof? Most quality roofing companies offer a free roof analysis which will let you know the exact shape of your roof. Plus, having a qualified roofer inspect your roof gives you the ability to tell the storm chaser roof guy 'No thanks - I already have a personal roofing professional'.  Sweet.
  • Q – I am going to put my home on the market soon and am moving to another part of the metro area.  What will help me make this an easier experience? Steve in Vinings A – I think one of the first things I would do is to select a good, experienced realtor for both the selling of the current house and the buying of the new house. And pay attention. This realtor should NOT be the same person. Even if you know which house you want to move into, you really need a buyer’s agent to help you with any of the small (or big) details that you may not be aware of. Or of which you may not be aware. Of.  Sorry – got distracted by the whole not ending a sentence with a preposition thing. Anyway – use one. A buyer’s agent’s fee doesn’t come out of your pocket, and in some instances you can even negotiate with them for a percentage of their commission. I know – right?!? A couple of notes for things I look for in an agent, no matter if it is a buyer or a selling agent. I want to have an agent that has already been successful in the market. I want to have an agent who is a little bit on the pricklish side of business. While I love the pleasant older man (or a woman) at church who also does real estate on the side, I want someone who will be strong and help me sort thru my offers and get me the most money regardless. This is a big business transaction for you, and you need to treat it as such. I want an agent who knows the market, so my house gets listed at the correct price so it will move quickly. If it’s a buyer’s agent I want one who understands my needs and desires and shows me homes with that in mind. Now that you have an agent, ask them about what will help your home sell faster and for as much money as possible. Thank you. That’ll be 7% please...
  • Q – For some reason I am starting to see pests in my house now. I thot all the bugs went away when the weather got cold? What am I doing wrong? Rebecca in Dunwoody A – Well first of all you don’t necessarily have to be doing anything wrong to have pests in your house. Bugs and such like the warmth and places to hide out when it gets cold, and since they are a lot smaller than you are they can squeeze thru most any crack in your house. So be sure to seal your house, looking especially for small cracks and openings into your house. You can fill them with spray foam. Also – be very careful about bringing firewood into your house. Bugs love to nest in the wood, and when you bring it into your house you are giving them a lift into your house. As the wood warms up the little nuisances spring back to life and voila! - you have bugs in your house. Keep the wood at least 10 feet from your house and try to only bring in as much as you are going to use for that fire. Hopefully this will help keep you bug free, at least until the weather warms back up and the whole cycle starts over again.
  • Q – I have moles in my yard. How do I get rid of them? Jack in Loganville A – Like most critters in and around your yard, if you can take away their food they will leave you alone. Moles eat grubs and earthworms, so let’s either get rid of them (mostly impossible) or fake out the moles into eating poison ones. One of the best baits out there is called Talpirid. Simply take a screwdriver and make a hole directly into the burrow and place the worm-looking bait (Talpirid) down that hole. Then gently push the dirt back into the hole. DO NOT smash down the burrows. Come back in one week and check your bait. Depending on how many burrows you have in your yard, one box should be good for one season. Happy hunting!

News

  • Sheriff’s deputies in southwest Washington helped a lost sea lion get back to its natural habitat Sunday. Cowlitz County deputies were called about the lost sea lion in Castle Rock, KIRO-TV reported. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife responded and helped get the sea lion into a cage so it could be transported back to water. Here is the video. posted on YouTube by the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office:
  • A 19-year-old Arkansas man is accused of attempting to blow up a vehicle at the Pentagon on Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release. According to court documents from the Eastern District of Virginia, Matthew Dmitri Richardson, of Fayetteville, was expected to make an appearance in federal court Tuesday afternoon, the release said. If convicted, officials said, Richardson faces a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and a maximum penalty of 20 years, WUSA reported. According to court documents, Pentagon police said Richardson tried to blow up an active-duty service member’s Land Rover at about 10:55 a.m. Monday, the television station reported. The officer said a Pentagon police officer saw Richardson in the north parking lot, striking a cigarette lighter to a piece of fabric that was inserted into the Land Rover’s gas tank, the news release said. According to the release, Richardson told the officer he was going to “blow this vehicle up” and “himself.' When the officer attempted to detain him, Richardson ran across the parking lot and onto a highway, where surveillance cameras subsequently revealed the man jumping over a fence into Arlington National Cemetery. Richardson was later found by authorities near Arlington House, according to the news release. According to court documents, officers searched Richardson and allegedly found a cigarette lighter, gloves, and court documents from his arrest around Saturday for two counts of felony assault on a law enforcement officer in Arlington County.
  • An 11-year-old Idaho girl who accompanied her grandfather to a legislative hearing on gun laws Monday did so armed with a loaded AR-15 assault rifle. Bailey Nielsen carried the weapon slung over her shoulder. According to The Associated Press, she remained silent as her grandfather, Charles Nielsen, addressed the legislative committee before him. “Bailey is carrying a loaded AR-15,” Nielsen said, according to the AP. “People live in fear, terrified of that which they do not understand. She’s been shooting since she was 5 years old. She got her first deer with this weapon at 9. She carries it responsibly. She knows how not to put her finger on the trigger. We live in fear in a society that is fed fear on a daily basis.” The AP reported that lawmakers had no reaction to the loaded weapon and asked Nielsen no questions when he was done speaking. The hearing the Nielsens attended dealt with a proposed law that would allow out-of-state visitors who have legal concealed handguns to carry them within city limits in Idaho. A law that was implemented last summer allows Idaho residents 18 and older to carry a concealed handgun within city limits without a permit or training. The proposed legislation would extend that right to all legal U.S. residents and U.S. military members. “When they come to Idaho, they should be able to carry concealed, because they carry responsibly,” Nielsen told the panel, according to the AP. “They’re law-abiding citizens. It’s the criminal we have to worry about.” Republican state Rep. Christy Zito, who proposed the bill, argued that the law would make clear the state gun laws and allow people to better defend themselves if necessary. She cited having to pull a weapon of her own when two men approached her vehicle with her daughter sitting inside. “I stand here before you today as a mother and grandmother who has had to use a firearm to defend their child,” Zito said, the AP reported. “Even though I didn't have to pull the trigger, just the fact that they could see it, and they knew that I had it, was the determining factor.” Bailey Nielsen’s appearance before the committee, which was captured in a photograph showing the AR-15 slung over her shoulder, caused outrage among gun safety advocates. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence spoke out on social media. “This is the kind of extremism we are up against. The AR-15 was loaded,” the Facebook post read. Followers of the organization chimed in. One woman pointed out that an AR-15 is not a hunting weapon. “(I) grew up in a family of hunters in northern Minnesota,” the woman wrote. “No self-respecting hunter uses this. These weapons were created for the destruction of people, nature and property. In other words, war.” “If this is legal, God help Idaho,” a man wrote. “I’ll never go there.” Another commenter wrote that a federal age limit needs to be set for carrying a weapon. Not all who saw the image were against the girl being allowed to carry the rifle. “I’d rather have her around if something ever happened than any of you professional victims,” one man wrote. On Twitter, one man responded to a news story about the Nielsens by saying guns in public used to be the norm. “Years ago, there were far more guns and far less shootings,” the man tweeted. “Guns are not the problem. Progressive indoctrination is the problem.” Others on social media wondered how the girl was able to get a loaded assault rifle into the building. One woman wrote that she was not allowed to attend a city council meeting without turning over her pocket knife as she passed through a metal detector. Multiple people wrote about how they weren’t allowed to take cellphones into court. The AP reported that it is not unusual to see weapons in the Idaho Statehouse, where some lawmakers carry concealed weapons of their own. Handguns and the occasional long gun also make appearances when gun legislation is on the table. The bill being debated Monday was ultimately sent on to the House for review, the news agency said.
  • Two people were arrested in an Alabama motel room after police discovered drugs and cash, including more than 8 pounds of marijuana, authorities said. Shane Antoine Tillman and Jennifer Gomez, both from California, were arrested by police at a Holiday Inn Express in Decatur, AL.com reported. Tillman was charged with trafficking in cannabis and unlawful possession of a controlled substance, according to an arrest report. He was taken to the Morgan County Jail and was being held in lieu of $6,000 bail, according to court records. Gomez was charged with trafficking in cannabis and was being held in lieu of a $5,000 bond at the Morgan County Jail. Decatur Police officers responded to a call reporting persons trespassing in a room at the motel, AL.com reported. According to police, authorities found 8.5 pounds of marijuana, prescription medications and a large amount of money in the room, AL.com reported.
  • A South Carolina family is grieving after a 7-year-old girl died while having her tonsils removed last week. Paisley Elizabeth Grace Cogsdill died Friday at a Greenwood hospital, WHNS reported. Paisley’s parents told the television station the girl’s heart stopped one minute into the tonsillectomy. The girl’s parents, Austin Cogsdill and Jasmine Cogsdill, said Paisley, a second-grader at Clinton Elementary School, was healthy and had shown no signs of medical issues, WHNS reported. “You don’t understand why these things happen but we know it was God’s plan and that’s the only thing that can get us through, cause we know it was God,” Paisley’s grandmother, Mary Beth Truelock, told the television station. An obituary posted online by Gray Funeral Home in Clinton described Paisley as “a gifted and talented student and a straight-A second-grader.' “Her full of ‘Joy’ attitude could be seen in everything she did, from playing T-ball and softball to performing hip-hop dance routines and gymnastics programs with her friends,” the obituary said. Autopsy results are expected sometime Tuesday, WHNS reported. A GoFundMe account was established to help pay for funeral expenses. The $30,000 goal was exceeded by Tuesday afternoon.
  • After watching a mother and her wheelchair-bound daughter tumble bloodied to the ground, Hamilton school bus driver Bob Thacker knew he had to do something to help. Thacker, a decade-long veteran of the city schools, dashed out of his bus to help mother Tonya Uhl and her special needs daughter Katelynn to right themselves and tend to their injuries. “She (Katelynn) was all bloody so I said, ‘I got to do something,’” Thacker said of the accident last month. The solution would be a wheelchair ramp, but Thacker said the Uhl family couldn’t get any local agencies to pay for and install it. “So I decided to build it myself,” he said, adding the ramp he created out of sturdy wood is detachable, portable and can be used on other stairs should the Uhls move from their Pleasant Avenue home. Uhl, whose seventh-grade daughter attends Garfield Middle School, said of Thacker, “he doesn’t know how much he did for us.” “It’s really appreciated. He went the extra mile to help us out like nobody else has before,” said Uhl. Becky Goosey, director of transportation for the city schools, praised Thacker for going far beyond his bus driving duties after witnessing how difficult it was for Uhl to push and pull Katelyn in her wheelchair up the steps of their home. “The student fell out of her wheelchair and had a significant injury to her mouth, and the parent had trouble getting up after she fell,” said Goosey. Joni Copas, spokeswoman for Hamilton Schools, said, “Bob is just one great example of our staff members going above and beyond the call of duty. “He saw a need and wanted to help Katelyn and her mother. He witnessed the daily struggle they had getting in and out of the house, so he took it upon himself and his own expense and built a ramp for them.” Thacker also arranged for another city resident to donate an electric, motorized wheelchair to Katelynn so she can more easily move about the neighborhood and school. “Sometimes, you just got to help people,” he said.