Q. I was pleased to learn of a company that supplies parts for broken kitchen appliances (in the Aug. 5 Homefront). Is there a business that repairs small electrical tools, such as sanders and drills?
A. First, check to see if the tool is still on warranty. If it is, you can return it to where it was purchased, or send it directly to the manufacturer for service.
You should decide whether the tool is worth fixing, says Eric Poblenz, assistant store manager for the Woodworkers Warehouse in Natick, Mass. "You have to ask, how old is the tool, and whether the technology is still up to date." If it's old, parts are harder to come by, he says. "Also, we tell people that if the repair cost is two-thirds the cost of a new tool, buy a new one."
Woodworkers Warehouse, a national chain of more than 100 discount stores for woodworking equipment, has a repair division that handles most brands of power tools. Customers bring the tool needing repair into one of the stores. To find a store in North America near you, call 888-234-8665.
Q. Is there a natural or safe way to get rid of grubs in your lawn?
A. "'Grubs' is a colloquial term," says Christopher Nyerges, who, with his wife, Dolores, teaches organic gardening in California and is working on a book on organic methods. "The reader could mean slugs, larvae of insects, or any number of pests.
"Bear in mind that insects attack weak plants. How do plants get weak? Poor soil. The best long-term solution is to improve the soil with compost, mulch, seaweed, and other materials. That said, the reader could sprinkle some powdered diatomaceous earth (DE) around the plants and in the lawn. Powdered DE is typically available in garden-supply stores. (Important note: This is not the DE sold in pool-supply stores as filtering agents for pools.)
"When insects and various bugs (snails, slugs, chinch bugs in lawns) come in contact with DE, they dry out and die. The DE is good for the soil, so there is no problem with it. Be careful when applying it though, since it is like fine dust, and you don't want to breathe it.
"Another technique is to mix a solution of 1/2 cup of a liquid dishwashing detergent with one gallon of water. We used only those liquid detergents that are alcohol-based, such as Ivory Liquid. We used this on lawns where there was a serious chinch-bug problem, and we always saw good results. I recommended reading Rodale Press's Encyclopedia of Composting and Encylopedia of Organic Gardening. For more information visit the Web site: www.self-reliance.net