Show Notes: DIY or Hire a Pro and More - On the House

Show Notes: DIY or Hire a Pro and More

By on February 20, 2018

If you are the ultimate DIY Week-end Warrior would you ever consider hiring a Pro? Our listeners had very specific ideas by their repsonses. Our Dream Bath guest is ready to peak being a walls to see if he can have a larger shower. Tired of a wood burning fireplace? How about some ideas to give it a change? And, we have some pet friendly gardening tips for you.


American Standard Dream Bath sponsored by

American Standard Walk in Tubs

John asks:

How can I find out what’s in the space behind my shower wall? If there is nothing in it can i use it to make my shower larger?


Recall of the Week: Husqvarna Recall

Well folks, it’s official- Husqvarna zigged when they should have zagged. That’s right, the Consumer Product Safety Commission states that Husqvarna released a recall on their Residential Zero Turn riding lawnmowers.

According to the CPSC, Husqvarna routed the fuel line in this lawnmower in such a way that excessive wear occurs and may cause a leak which poses a tremendous fire hazard.

The CPSC recommends that consumers immediately stop using this lawnmower and contact Husqvarna at 877-257-6921 from 8am to 6pm EST Monday through Friday or email Husqvarna at to schedule a free inspection and repair.

Now, this recall involves just over 7000 units and 7 different models. So, if you are interested in seeing if your lawnmower is on this recall list then please go to the show notes section of to find a link that will take you to the recall on the consumer product safety commission’s website. On this page, you will find a list of the model’s that are affected by this recall.


Home Maintenance Tasks: When To DIY and When To Hire a Pro

 Doing maintenance jobs yourself can be a smart way to save money, but choose the right DIY projects or you’ll end up paying dearly.

More than 100,000 people injure themselves each year doing home improvement jobs. So add medical bills to your DIY budget, and you ending up spending the same, or more, than if you hired a pro.

We’re not suggesting that you call a plumber each time you need to plunge a toilet. But think twice about what DIY might really cost you. Here’s how to decide.

Stick to routine maintenance for savings and safety

Seasonal home maintenance is ideal work for the weekend warrior because you can tackle these jobs when your schedule permits. Because these are routine maintenance projects, your savings will add up. Mowing your own lawn, for example, saves $55 to $65 a week for a half-acre lawn. The bigger the lot, the bigger the savings: with two acres, you’ll pocket around $150 per week.

When it pays:

         Snow removal

         Pruning shrubs

         Washing windows (be careful on that ladder)

         Sealing decks

         Painting fences

         Fertilizing lawns

         Replacing air conditioner filters

         Cleaning gutters

When it costs: Unless you have skill and experience on your side, stay off any ladder taller than six feet; according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, emergency rooms are filled with people with ladder injuries. The same goes for operating power saws or attempting any major electrical work—it’s simply too risky if you don’t have the experience.

Become your own general contractor

If you’re more comfortable operating an iPhone than a circular saw, you could act as your own general contractor on some home improvement projects. That means you hire, schedule, and pay the carpenters, plumbers, and other tradesmen yourself. You’ll save 10% to 20% of the job cost, which is the contractor’s typical fee.

When it pays: If it’s a small job that requires only two or three subcontractors, and you have good relationships with top-quality professionals in those fields, consider DIY contracting.

When it costs: When you don’t have an established network of reliable workers, time to supervise, construction experience to spot problems, and the skill to negotiate disputes between subcontractors, your project and budget are at risk.

Invest sweat equity on big jobs

Contribute your own labor to big jobs being handled by a professional crew and cut hundreds, even thousands, off construction costs. For instance, tear out kitchen cabinets and appliances before the contractor gets started, and you might knock $800 off the cost of your remodel. Make sure you negotiate cost savings with your contractor before pitching in.

When it pays: Jobs that are labor-intensive but require relatively little skill make perfect sweat equity jobs. Perform minor interior demolition, such as pulling up old flooring, daily job site cleanup, product assembly, and simple landscaping.

When it costs: If you get in the crew’s way, you may slow them down far more than you help. Make your contributions when the workers aren’t around; mornings before they arrive, or nights and weekends after they’ve left.

Add finishing touches

Unlike the early phases of a construction job–which require skilled labor to frame walls, install plumbing pipes, and run wires–many finishing touches are comparatively simple and DIY-friendly. If you paint a basement remodel yourself, for instance, you can save up to $1,800.

When it pays: If you have skill, patience, or an experienced friend to teach you, setting tile, laying flooring, painting walls, and installing trim are good DIY jobs.

When it costs: The downside to attempting your own finish work is that the results are very visible. Hammer dents in woodwork, or sander ruts in hardwood floors will annoy you every time you see them. So unless you have a sure eye and a steady hand, don’t perform the tasks that only a skilled tradesperson will get right.


Ultra Sonic Clothes Dryer

Here’s a riddle for everyone- What goes bump in the night and accounts for about 4% of all residential electricity consumption?

According to an article on, that dryer of yours may be fading the funds in your bank account just as much as it’s fading the color of your favorite shirt.

Traditional electric clothing dryers use electricity to create heat to evaporate the water within the fabric. The article states that scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory teamed up with big names like GE to find a solution to this barbaric form of technology.

The team built a prototype that uses ultrasonic waves to dry clothing. An amplifier emits high-frequency waves to vibrate the moisture out of the fabric.

Get this, the prototype was able to dry a piece of fabric in a mere 14 seconds. The article on states that drying times can be cut down to as low as 20 minutes and reduce energy use by a whopping 70%.

So far, the only con to the growing list of pros is that the dryer produces mist instead of humid air which can cause dampness and mold issues within the home.

For more on this, please go to


 It Time to Convert Your Wood-Burning Fireplace

That wood-burning fireplace may look grand in the living room, and a blazing fire on a chilly night is certainly tempting — but beyond that, traditional fireplaces offer surprisingly little reward for the trouble. Converting an old fireplace to gas or electric can be a smart choice, allowing you to use the fireplace more often during the year (just flip it on during a chilly evening and turn it off when you’re done) and heating the house during the colder months. Get the full scoop here and see if converting your wood burning fireplace is the right choice for you.

Why switch from wood? Wood-burning fireplaces do little to heat a room — in fact, they typically pull warm air from inside the home and send it right up the chimney. If someone in your house has asthma, allergies or other respiratory issues, irritants from the fireplace can make these problems worse. Wood-burning fireplaces are also responsible for a surprising amount of air pollution, which is why there are restrictions on wood burning in some areas. They can also cause home fires, due to a buildup of creosote, the substance left behind on the chimney walls after wood is burned.

Gas fireplace insert. This is essentially a complete fireplace installed within the firebox of the existing wood-burning fireplace. It typically costs between $2,000 and $5,000, including professional installation. Because gas fireplace inserts function as heaters, they give off significantly more warmth than wood-burning fireplaces and vented gas logs; you can choose a model with adjustable flames so you can control the amount of warmth it gives off. They can be quite energy efficient, and because the glass doors are always shut and the fireplace exhausts to the outdoors, they are a healthier choice than traditional wood-burning fireplaces or gas logs without airtight doors. 
Bottom line: A gas fireplace insert can provide efficient warmth and ambience without the health or environmental concerns associated with wood burning, but at a higher initial cost than other options.

Electric fireplace insert. This is installed in much the same way as a gas insert, with the exception that it does not need to vent to the outdoors, making it an excellent choice for nonfunctioning chimneys. Electric inserts cost far less than gas, usually around $500 to $1,500 installed. There is no actual fire in an electric fireplace, but newer models (like the one shown here) are available with highly realistic LED “flames” for ambience. The lack of a need for venting also makes an electric fireplace a good choice if you would like to mount a TV above the mantel. Like gas fireplace inserts, they provide good heat.

Bottom line: Electric fireplace inserts are a good choice if you have a nonfunctioning chimney or wish to place a TV over the mantel, and they typically cost less to install than a gas insert.

Vented gas log. This typically costs between $500 and $1,000, which is less than a fireplace insert. Because you must leave the damper open at all times with vented gas logs, your home can lose a lot of heat — even more than with a wood-burning fireplace. To remedy the heat-loss issue, you can have airtight glass doors installed (for an additional cost), though the gas logs will still not provide much heat into the room.
Bottom line: Vented gas logs can be a good budget option if you are looking for more ambience than heat.

Safety note: Avoid unvented gas logs. Unvented gas logs are not recommended, because they release air from the fireplace back into the room with no exterior ventilation, potentially causing serious health problems, and they are banned in many areas. Even though gas fireplaces do not produce smoke, they still create pollutants, including carbon monoxide, making venting essential.

Wood pellet fireplace insert. Cleaner burning than wood, wood-pellet stoves can provide a lot of heat and are relatively inexpensive to operate. The initial price including installation is comparable to that of a gas fireplace insert, from $2,000 to $4,000. They do require electricity to run the hopper, which feeds wood pellets into the fire. Some chimneys may need to be outfitted with a metal insert for safety.

Bottom line: Wood-pellet fireplace inserts are an energy-efficient heating option that also provide the ambience of real flames and do not require a natural gas line.

Safety note: Check that chimney! If you are installing a fireplace insert that uses the chimney as a vent, be sure to have the chimney professionally cleaned and inspectedbefore installation to avoid chimney fires.


8 Tips for Having a Great Yard for Your Pets in the Spring

How to be “backyard ready” for dog fun when spring hits

 Winter is nearly over, and it’s time for your dog to get outside to bask in the sunshine and roll in the grass. Here are some tips to help you get your yard ready for springtime fun from Lucky the TurfMutt, a rescue dog who pays it forward by helping children and families take care of green spaces.

Tune up your turfgrass. A sturdy grass lawn can take the pounding and activity of an active pooch. After a winter in dormancy, your lawn will be moving back into a growth phase as the weather heats up. Begin mowing as soon as your lawn needs it.

Create a dog-friendly backyard. Map out your yard with your dog in mind. Soft foliage, sturdy turfgrass, smooth stones, and dog toys can help your pet feel at home. Add a water station so your pet can hydrate after some time playing. A fun water feature can help your pooch cool off when it’s hot.

Plan for fun. Set up an area for your dog to dig, such as a digging box or digging bed. Add chew toys in the dirt (leave one poking out) to help your dog get the idea. A canine obstacle course can provide hours of fun if you have the space available to install one.

Use plants to give your dog a sense of boundaries. Place plants close together in areas you want to designate as off-limits and train your dog to avoid them. Leave open areas for your dog to run and play in (and accept that that is what your dog will do).

Avoid toxic plants that can be harmful to your pet. Dogs do not naturally avoid plants that are toxic to them and many will eat plants that are not safe for consumption. A few common toxic plants for dogs are: carnations, chrysanthemums, daffodils, hostas, ivy, lilies, morning glories, tomatoes, and tulips. For a complete list, visit ASPCA’s list of nontoxic and toxic plants for dogs.

Look for hazards and eliminate them. Some paved or sandy surfaces may get too hot for your pet to walk on comfortably. Tiny pebbles, thorns, or gravel can get caught in paws. Ensure your pet’s main play area includes grass.

Check your fence. A fence is an important safety feature for your pet. Make sure your fence is solid and do any needed repairs. Pay attention to your gate and be sure locks are working properly. Many dogs will patrol the edges of the yard and make paths near the fence line. Plan for these predictable paths in your yard and if you find them unsightly, you can add a gentle stone or mulch path. If you use an invisible fence, make sure it is properly working and that your pet knows the boundaries.

Set up for shade (and naps). Your dog will need a place to relax after a busy day of play. A tree or bush can provide shade for your pet. A dog house provides a great place for your four-footed friend to take an afternoon snooze.

For more information on nurturing your living landscape, go to

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