News

Building a better fly trap

BY Ken Clark

Sometimes, the editorial offices of Home Channel News will get sample products to review. Seldom do we write a full commentary about them.

The Rescue! Pop! Fly Trap is one of those rare products worthy of a commentary.

I don’t like the name. It contains too many exclamation points. (The New York Times editors have a longstanding rule: they can use one exclamation point per century.)

But, man, does that thing catch flies!

Here’s what my wife said during official HCN product testing when I set the product on the trash can and drove off for an hour or two to shop at a local home improvement retailer: “Get that thing away from the house! It’s attracting too many flies.” 

But is it killing them?

“Go see for yourself,” she said.

(Note: Squeamish readers should skip the next two paragraphs.)

Here’s what I saw. About six flies were swarming around the trap. Inside the recycled soda bottle, another half dozen flies were swarming around looking for an exit that they would never find. A few inches below this dance of death, a layer of flies floated at the surface of the liquid attractant. 

During the writing of this column, I felt the urge to go check on my fly trap, which I moved behind the shed in the backyard. It’s still working, with vanquished flies piled on top of each other. Man, there must be 300 dead flies in there, easy.

For the innocent flies, it’s death by drowning. No toxic chemicals or electric zappers.

Watching the fly trap at work makes one philosophical. Why aren’t the flies warning each other? Why can’t they figure out how to fly up the middle of the funnel and save themselves? And as the poet Robert Frost famously asked: “What but design of darkness to appall/If design govern a thing so small?” 

These are questions I am not competent to answer. 

The Rescue! Pop! Fly Trap is a recycled pop bottle, modified at the top so that a special fly entrance system can be attached with a simple twist. The product includes water-soluble attractant in a foil pouch. You fill the bottle with water, drop in the attractant, and pretty soon you have filth flies and other disgusting insects of the order Diptera buzzing unawares to their doom.

The kids (7 and 10) don’t like the Rescue! Pop! Fly Trap. They don’t like the ultra-stinky smell of the attractant. And they side with their mother in the feeling that it attracts too many flies. 

To which I, the professional product reviewer for a retail audience, say: That’s what it’s supposed to do. Attract flies and kill them. The more the merrier. A kit sells for about $10 at retail. 

I hate flies. I feel that I’m helping mankind in some small way by eliminating them. I love products that exceed expectations. And therefore, I give this Rescue! Pop! Fly Trap a strong endorsement.

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New-home sales show signs of strength in May

BY Ken Clark

Sales of new homes in May rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 369,000, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The May figure is up 7.6% over April and marks an increase of 19.8% above May 2011.

The May figure was the highest in two years (since April 2010) and was aided by factors including low interest rates, housing affordability and warm weather. Most analysts had expected the May rate to fall short of 350,000. 

The median sales price of new houses sold in May 2012 was $234,500; the average sales price was $273,900. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of May was 145,000. This represents a supply of 4.7 months at the current sales rate, according to the Commerce Department. 

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Bursting toilet tanks lead to product recall

BY Brae Canlen

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and its Canadian equivalent, Health Canada, have announced a voluntary recall of Flushmate III Pressure-Assist Flushing System Units, made by Flushmate of New Hudson, Mich., a division of Sloan Valve Co.

Installed inside toilet tanks, the flushing system can burst at or near the vessel weld seam, releasing stored pressure. This pressure can lift the tank lid and shatter the tank, posing impact or laceration hazards to consumers and property damage. So far, Flushmate has received 304 reports of the product bursting, resulting in property damage and 14 impact or laceration injuries.

The recalled systems were manufactured from October 1997 to February 200 and sold at Home Depot, Lowe’s, distributors and plumbing contractors nationwide for about $108. Toilet manufacturers including American Standard, Crane, Eljer, Gerber, Kohler, Mansfield and St. Thomas also used the flushing units, which are rectangular, black, two-piece vessels made of injection molded plastic.

It is estimated that about 2,330,600 of the products were sold in the United States and 9,400 in Canada.

For more information, visit flushmate.com and recall.flushmate.com.

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