The House Whisperer

A free internet archive of Jack Milne's famous House Whisperer Show radio broadcasts.

The Email Box Revisited: Vol.5
Once again, I dive into the trove of emails and pick out a few to help answer questions that I feel will benefit everybody. Today's topics include selling in the winter market, fireplace cleaning, water actuated sump pump backup systems, and dated water heaters. A few other little surprises await your ears.
Fire Safety: What Can We Do To Prepare?
Fires within your home are called accidents because fires can occur in the home for multiple reasons, be it in the kitchen, the dryer, by heating and hot water equipment, fireplaces, etc. On this show, I talk about some of the simple things you can do to prepare your house in case of a fire, including proper planning, smoke alarms, egress windows, fire extinguishers, and sprinkler systems. I ask that you listen in so that your house and your family is fully prepared in the event of a catastrophe that can affect your entire family.
Clean Up Time
Now that it is officially spring, it's time to finally put winter and hibernation behind us. It's time to get outdoors, take a look around, and see what kind of toll winter has taken on your home. If you still have those Christmas lights up, it's time to take them down! I also talk about getting your lawn ready, getting the equipment ready to cut that lawn, and cleaning out those gutters before the spring rains come. Listen in for a lot of little ideas and tips to help you get ready for spring.
Driveways: That Patch of Earth Where We Park Our Cars
From dead grass under the constant use of your car tires to cobblestones and pavers, today's segment covers simple maintenance suggestions concerning the use of parking on the lawn, gravel, asphalt, concrete, and finally pavers. Although we typically think of fall as the best time to prepare your driveway for winter, now that winter is over, I always think it's best to prepare your driveway finishes for the harshness of the UV rays of the sun. Listen in and let's treat that vehicle special.
Home Maintenance For Dummies 101
I am a member of the Baby Boomers, those children born after WWII. The Millennials, who are currently 20-35 years old, are now the next group of people to help lead our country. These folks were raised on video games and the computer. It appears that they spent so much time being distracted, that they didn't learn some of the basic maintenance skills that are needed when they buy their first home. Often times, as I'm conducting inspections for my young clients, their fathers come along. Today's segment takes you through some of the more basic maintenance ideas and suggestions that will get you started in maintaining your own home. As you will soon find out, every time a mechanic knocks on your door, it's going to be another $100 before he repairs or replaces that component of which you requested. Listen in, and hopefully I can save you some money.
What's In The News For Spring 2015?
As you all know, I am an avid newspaper reader. It's one of the few news sources anymore where news writers are paid to create an accurate picture of what's going on around us. Today I chose to cover topics that apply to all of us, including propane safety, don't get nailed by a contractor, our great city of Philadelphia and how it's grown, reviewing rental costs in the city of Philadelphia, and the problem with Millennials buying real estate. Listen in, as we can all learn something from the latest news events.
Let's Get Ready For Summer
As this show airs over the Memorial Day weekend, I thought it was best to talk about items within your home that should be running at their maximum efficiency. These items include; how to check your air conditioning, changing your air filter to be prepared for running the air conditioning, setting humidifiers, how to properly operate the thermostat. Other fun topics include grills, shrubs and gutters, your water heater, cleaning screens, refrigeration, your dryer, and finally an overview. Listen in, because there are ways you can reduce your energy costs on some of the most expensive appliances in your home.
Exterior Claddings: How Maintenance Will Keep Our Homes Safe and Warm
As the summer sun beats down on our homes, it's our exterior claddings that take the biggest punishment. Today I talk about various wood finishes and their maintenance. I also include stucco, aluminum, vinyl siding, and asbestos. Simple maintenance of these items will help protect the "skin" on the outside of your home.
Is My Basement Wet?
The title of this show may a bit redundant, as you do currently live in your home, and every time you open the basement door, you may smell a foul odor. This show will take you through all of the steps to keep your basement as dry as possible, and if need be, install a waterproofing system. Sometimes, it's the simplest things that can be done to keep your basement "bone dry".
July is Safety Month: What To Check Around Your House
On this show, I talk about items around the house that we may take for granted, but can save our lives. I touch on smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, ground fault circuit interrupters, bath fans in showers, double locking deadbolts, and cleaning that dryer vent. I don't want to give away the whole show, but I ask that you listen in and learn a few more things about your home that you may take for granted.
The Hidden Costs of Home Ownership
After you go through all the trials and tribulations of buying a home and you have moved in, all of a sudden, small items that are required like blinds, homeowner's association fees, lawn care, as well as electrical updates, start to add up. Today's show covers many items that may cost some initial dollars up front, but in the long term, will save you money throughout the time in your home.
Email Box Revisited: Vol. 8
Delving into the email box is one of my favorite activities. I choose topics that I feel everyone can take full advantage of. Today's topics include: how to run your air conditioning more efficiently, especially during the hottest part of the summer, maintaining your lawn, installing air conditioning in older properties, concerns with older twin homes that require slate roof replacement, and building a garage (with the wife's permission). Listen in, as some of these topics may apply to you.
Cost vs. Benefits: What Should I Do First? (Part 1)
Whenever we put our hard earned dollars into our home, we always have to weigh the cost vs. the benefit, as to how will my investment work best for me. Today's show covers what I feel are some of the most important things you should consider that give the most rapid rate of return, but at the same time, give you a good amount of return on your investment when you sell your home down the road. Today's subjects include: insulation, windows, updating your heating and air conditioning equipment, and installing gas appliances over those current electric appliances that you may have in your home now. Listen in, as this show is invaluable.
Cost vs. Benefits: What Should I Do First? (Part 2)
When putting last week's show together, there were so many other options that I wanted to share with the listener, that I created Part 2. This segment again covers some of the things you really wouldn't expect that give you a good return on your investment. Today's topics include: generators, bilco doors vs. foundation windows, kitchens and bathrooms (you would be surprised at your rate of return!) and roofing. These are all things that we can live with on a daily basis, but again, I urge you to listen in, because your hard earned dollars can go a long way if you plan accordingly.
Scott Milne of National Energy Technology
(1-800-984-0332) Scott (who by the way is my brother) has been an energy auditor for the past 10 years. His clients include the Hard Rock Café in Cancun and the Sheraton Hotel in Philadelphia. He has been involved with photovoltaic solar arrays, LED light bulbs, insulating paint, and in the future, charging stations for your electric vehicles. I asked Scott to come on the air today, because with winter around the corner, I thought it was time for him to share his thoughts with the listeners to help you prepare for lower energy costs throughout the upcoming season. Listen in, take full advantage of his knowledge, and let's all save money this winter.
Stupid Stuff That We Take For Granted, But Should Do Anyway
On this show, I discuss many of the things within our homes that we appear to take for granted. Some of the stupid stuff like cleaning the dryer vent, replacing your ice cubes, cleaning the oven, checking your fire extinguisher, and a few other important things that you should not take for granted. Listen in, and I ask that you tell your friends about this segment and pass it along. Paying attention to these little things could save your life.
Glen Aust From GA Electric
(215-357-5259 or 610-346-8129) Glen has been a popular guest on The House Whisperer Show over the years. Today I have the opportunity to ask Glen about the various acronyms; GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) and AFCI (arc fault circuit interrupter). We discuss why they are important in your household and how they can save your life. Today's codes call for these specialized breakers and/or outlets in some areas that you wouldn't expect. Listen in, and if your house is not equipped with these specialized devices, you should consider them.
Rain and mold: Have You Had Enough This Summer?
As you may well remember, the summer of 2013 was particularly wet and hot. How many times did you have your gutters overflow and water infiltration into your home through all the nooks and crannies that you never knew you had? Listen in, as I explain the reasons for this water intrusion and methods that may help protect you and your home in the future.
Trees: We Love Them, But Oh, The Maintenance!
Trees: We love them, but at the same time, they do require a lot of maintenance, especially as they grow older. Clogged gutters and improper root growth (which can affect sewer laterals, water lines, on-site sewage systems, and our general well-being with exposed tree roots) have impact on our lifestyles. How many times have you walked down a city street and almost tripped where the tree roots have raised the concrete pads? If you live amongst a canopy of trees, I would ask that you listen in to this show, as I will help you make decisions as to how to maintain them, and at the same time, not affect the structural integrity of your home and the proper operation of your utilities.
Going Away? Think About This
Although the vacation season may be behind us, when was the last time you really had some kind of a checklist to close your house down properly before you left on vacation or an extended business trip? On this segment, I walk you through some obvious close-down procedures, but also some not as obvious. In my opinion, your house should always appear as it is lived in and active, no matter how long you may be away.
Spring Cleaning: Let's Get Rid of the Clutter
It may be the end of January, however, when I was putting away my holiday trinkets in my attic, it gave me an opportunity to look through those items that I have stored through the years. In the old days, we used to call it "Spring Cleaning". Today, its "Let's get rid of the clutter". This show talks about revisiting those items that may not have been used for a period of time, and where to donate them. It also discusses the sensitive topic of talking with your elderly parents about the accumulation of clutter in their homes, since this depression-era generation tends to collect items rather than letting them go. I ask that you listen in for some great advice.
Email Box Revisited – Vol 3
For the third time in the series I revisit the email box. It gives my listeners an opportunity to ask questions with me about revelent topics that I feel affect everybody. The show's topics touch on aging water heaters during a real estate transaction, issues with icicles; why they are formed and how to correct it, home inspections conducted during winter weather where snow may cover the roof, walk-throughs where the initial inspections have been conducted, where the house was both vacant as well as winterized, tankless water heaters vs. standard water heaters, and why vermiculite should not be disturbed.
Powerless: Fact vs. Fiction
This segment comes at a crucial time where climate change has begun to affect our local environment. With Hurricane Sandy and the recent snow storms, where we lost our power for multiple days on end, this segment covers not only being powerless within our homes, but also powerless because of our government institutions. I typically don't stand on the stump and discuss politics, however, due to the breakdown of communications between our politicians, our legislators, and their parties, the word "powerless" has new meaning. Because of this inactivity, global warming has continued and it's apparent that we are losing power, particularly in our homes, on a more frequent basis. I ask that you listen in to gain some resolve and some insight as to how we can all live better.
"Spring Fling": The Ides of March Are Upon Us, Are You Ready?
Finally! The majority of winter should now be behind us as we all look forward to spring. We may still encounter that freak snow storm, but the buds are forming on the trees, there are more bird droppings on our cars, and it's nice to hear the birds chirping first thing in the morning. With the winter doldrums now behind us, how is the best way to prepare for spring? Listen in to this show, as I talk about general maintenance that may have gone by the wayside during the cold winter months, including gutters, shrubbery, your roof, grading, your driveway, and lawn mower maintenance. Fortunately, with daylight savings time, it affords us all an opportunity to maintain our homes further into the evening.
DIY: Do It Yourself, Honestly Can You?
This show discusses very simple items that most homeowners can do themselves after they are done paying professionals tons of money for some of the routine items around the home. Painting, minor electrical work, as well as minor plumbing work, are covered on this show. Granted, I may not be able to make you a professional within a half hour segment, however, I am trying to get you to dip your toe in the water and give it a try.
How to Hire a Professional Contractor
With Ken Neudecker From Neudecker Construction: 215-443-9200 I've known Ken for well over 25 years. He is my go-to guy in cases when I come across a home inspection where there are serious structural issues that could be related to water infiltration, wood destroying insect damage, or just typical settlement in an older home. I asked Ken to spend some time with me so that he could share with all of us how to hire a professional contractor, and especially how to plan time frames, as no project can be dreamed up today and completed tomorrow.
What's In Your Toolbox?
At some point in your life, you're going to have to make a major purchase on tools to help you maintain your home. This segment talks about the very basics that I feel every homeowner should have in their toolbox. I discuss hand tools, power tools, extension cords, everything that you may need to start becoming handy in your home.
Ready, Set, Go: Let's Paint, Let it Roll!
Today's episode talks about how to prep a wall for painting. It starts with your purchase of paint, and runs through all of the accessories that will be required to change a drab room into something exciting. Listen in before you buy that first gallon of paint.
Duct Cleaning: Is It Worth It?
One thing I truly enjoy about this show is answering email from my listeners and/or my realtors. During the course of a home inspection, I was asked by one of our realtors in Bucks County about the benefits of duct cleaning. This show discusses not only proper filtration and the maintenance of humidifiers, but also how to find a qualified duct cleaning service, and if you really need it. Before you invest anywhere from $400 - $800, depending on the size and complexity of your home, I would ask that you listen in to help you make that decision.
Heating Bills Are Expected to Rise: What Can We Do?
With it now being November and with winter rapidly approaching, I discuss how the prices of fuel (be it gas, oil, or electric) are going up for the winter of 2013. Each of these "fuels" are evaluated, and at the same time, I offer great tips on how to keep down the operating costs of your home. If you are worried about paying for this winter's bills, this is the show you want to listen to.
How to Safely Prepare for the Holidays
With the holidays approaching, we have to give thought not only to our loved ones, but also to our physical well-being. This is the time of year when we tend to stretch our limits, using ladders and electricity in order to make our houses brighter and more cheerful. I ask that you listen in to this show to learn more about ladder safety, electrical safety, as well as other topics including general maintenance of the home with regard to hose bibs, laundry centers, and also your vehicle.
Low Sloped Roof Maintenance for Fall & Winter
If you live in the city, where the vast majority of the homes have low sloped or flat roofs, you may want to listen to this episode as it covers how to prepare your roof for the winter. We discuss the types of roofs, from as simple as a rolled roof all the way up to rubber, and what you have to do to maintain it so that the roof stays watertight without becoming a swimming pool. We discuss coatings and applications as well. As winter is rapidly approaching, and temperatures are dropping, please listen in and prepare for the winter season.
How to Protect Your Home from the Invasion of Mice
With Mike Cantor As you begin to rake the leaves away from your house this season, it is imperative that you take a good look around to make sure that any and all penetrations (even as small as the size of a dime) are properly sealed. This segment welcomes Mike Cantor, the owner of Pest Blaster, and we discuss how to best protect your home against mice infestation, and simple methods of repair that all homeowners can do to prevent this occurrence.
On-Site Sewage Systems: Cost to Maintain vs. Replacement
With Rob Bowie The House Whisperer welcomes Rob Bowie from Bux-Mont Inspections. Rob is a sewage control officer who designs and evaluates on-site sewage systems. In your home, when you flush the toilet, run the kitchen sink, dishwasher, or clothes washer, if it doesn't go into the public sewage system, its going on your property. I ask that you listen in to Rob's show, as we cover multiple topics including installation, repair, maintenance, and if necessary, replacement of your on-site sewage system.
Myths vs. Reality: Radon and Wood Destroying Insects in Cold Weather
How Can it Vary? With Rob Bruno Rob Bruno, who owns Boro Exterminating Company, has been one of my sponsors over the last three years, between two different radio stations. Rob visits us again to discuss wood destroying insects, and how they can thrive, or not thrive, during cold weather periods. We discuss the common wood destroying insects; termites, carpenter bees, and carpenter ants. Then we go in a different direction, and discuss radon testing, as Boro Exterminating also conducts radon testing in their service market. I ask that you listen in to set the record straight, especially being a homeowner, and not let those pesky insects take control of your home.
Underground Fuel Storage Tanks
with Phil Getty of Boucher & James If any listeners have an underground fuel storage tank, regardless of age, I would ask you to listen to this show. Phil Getty, who graduated from Penn State in Geology, has worked for 20 years with Boucher and James and has been involved in many fuel tank investigations, as well as cleanup projects. He also currently services as President of the Board of the Bucks County Audubon Society. Phil and I discuss multiple topics regarding the life expectancy of fuel tanks, what types of problems can develop if a tank leaks, as well as ways to test an underground tank. Funding may be available to defray costs for extraction. Any concerns that you may have, I would ask you to reach out to Phil at 215-345-9400.
How Come? Things That Don't Make Sense in Our Homes
GFCIs, or ground fault circuit interrupters, have become an integral part of our lifestyle. These circuited receptacles are designed to prevent potential shock and/or electrocution, and are generally placed near water sources. GFCIs, however, due to the electrical code, have been placed in some areas that typically don't make sense. Fortunately, as home inspectors we are not code officials. Thus, this episode discusses where GFCIs should be placed and where alternatives can be offered to maintain the mechanical integrity of your home. Listen in, especially if you have a home that was built within the last few years, where GFCIs are found everywhere.
Decorating Rooms: It's More Than Just Picture Hanging
Although I'm joking about hanging pictures, I actually do take some time during this show to tell you how to do it properly. We also talk about trim work, be it chair rails, wainscoting, and/or crown molding. Lighting, flooring, and other effects will turn a drab room into something exciting. When your friends and neighbors walk in, they'll say, "Wow! How did you do this?" So listen in before you spend time with painters, carpenters, and flooring specialists.
Living Near Waterways: What Concerns Should I Have?
If you ever thought about living near a source of water, be it a retention basin, brook, creek, river, or lake, each have their own peculiarities and can affect your quality of life due to such things as the moon and unpredictable weather patterns. I ask that you listen in if you are planning on either living or retiring near a water source.
Hot Tubs: Are They Worth It, and What About The Maintenance?
Now that summer is over and winter is around the corner, those of us with swimming pools are starting to close them up for the season. This includes blowing out the lines, clearing the pumps, and keeping our fingers crossed that by next spring, everything will be fine. Hot tubs, on the other hand, are considered small pools. They still require a good deal of maintenance, and especially with hot water, bacteria counts can tend to be higher. As an owner of a hot tub, I would ask that you listen in to this show, as I can give you first hand information about how it should be maintained, benefits of electric heat over gas or propane, location of the hot tub, and costs involved.
How To Build a Better Basement (Part 2): Let The Construction Begin
On last week's show, we talked about how to prepare for a huge endeavor like finishing a basement. This show takes you to the next step; from the arrival of the dumpster and the mechanics, to the sound of demolition and the dust accumulation around the home. I discuss installing steel studs in lieu of wood because of potential mold issues, insulation, egress, etc. Once again, if you plan to finish your basement, I would ask that you listen to both segments so that you can be fully prepared. Good luck with your project!
Typical Roofs On Old Buildings
Interview With William Kibbel of Tri-County Inspection Company (215-295-2030) For this segment, I brought in my senior inspector, Bill Kibbel of Tri-County Inspection Company, whose forte is historical structures. For any of my listeners who reside in or maintain an old building, I would ask that you listen in. This segment will cover slate, metal, tile, as well as wood shingles and shakes. Bill is a nationally ranked speaker on historical structures, and I ask that you listen in for excellent advice.
Fall Is In Full Swing: How Do We Prepare?
This episode touches on multiple topics, including but not limited to: the closing down of your lawn equipment, the potential of lower heating bills (both propane and oil), why it makes sense to fine tune your heater now, why it is imperative at this point that you insulate your home to prepare for winter, checking your roof, sealing your driveway, and other timely projects that can be done before winter really sets in.
The Garage: A Man's Favorite Place, And A Woman's Place To Put Stuff
When a couple buys a home, the man is typically interested in two things; the garage and the basement. Optimism usually abounds, saying "I'm going to put this in the garage, I'm going to put that in the garage." However, with time, this area tends to get overwhelmed. This show is a whimsical look at how to control the amount of "stuff" that enters your sanctum. With the holidays ahead of us, it may be time to clean out the cavern and donate what you can to those in need.
DIY Disasters: We've All Had Them!
Most common disasters for the do-it-yourselfer typically occur when we don't think the job through. When we tend to rush, mistakes tend to be made. Today's show takes a humorous look at some of the things that I've run across as a home inspector in talking with my clients throughout the years.
Let's Not Forget
With winter now upon us, and with the hectic pace of the holidays, there are a lot of things that we can't forget. This show touches on a few of them, including being courteous to your fellow man, shutting off hose bibs, preparing your small machines for winterization, cleaning the dryer vent, and many other things that we tend to take for granted as the weather turns cold. Listen in so that you don't forget to maintain your house properly during the winter.
The Weather And Your Home: It's A Constant Battle
It seems that from the dawn of time, man has tried to keep himself out of the weather, be it in caves, brush, or adobe. The common element is protection from the elements. On this show, we talk about roofing, siding, windows and other penetrations, as well as grading and power loss. Over the past few years, it appears that Mother Nature has been winning this battle, but I ask you to listen in so that, as a homeowner, you can do your best to battle the elements.
Laminates, Engineered and Solid Wood Flooring: What Are The Pros And Cons?
With John Dolon from Tight Threads Flooring 267-987-4666 I think there comes a time in everyone's home when you look at those old, scarred floors and turn to your significant other and say, "Why don't we update our flooring?" With so many varieties now being available to the consumer, be it true hardwoods, engineered hardwoods, and laminates, I ask that you listen to John Dolon as I interview him about the differences between the laminates and hardwoods, what makes engineered hardwoods different than standard hardwoods, as well as the life expectancy of each. We also talk about refinishing your existing hardwood floors and if it's possible, depending on the floor that is in your home.
Which Home Fixes Work Best In Selling?
I took the title of this show from an article I read in one of the local Philadelphia papers. It is written by a well-known real estate reporter, and after reading through it, I came up with my own list of easy repairs that will help a seller be ready to show their house in any market. If you are looking to sell, I ask you to listen in. You may be surprised how easy some of these fixes are.
Security Systems: Am I Still Safe?
Today's show touches on older security systems. Many people, when they move into a home, are not familiar with the operation nor the fees associated with operating and maintaining a security system. Most of the older systems are tied to a "land line" which many homeowners today no longer have, especially the younger generation of buyers. It also touches on some lazy wiring techniques, where the security system is plugged into a GFCI rated receptacle down at the panel box. If you own one of these older security systems, I ask that you listen in, as I can provide some great insight as to how to keep your family safe.
Bux-Mont Inspections with Rob Bowie
(215-669-4213 and Rob has been one of my sponsors since Day 1. Today I have the opportunity of chatting with Rob about on-site sewage maintenance. Over 30% of homes in Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Delaware Counties, as well as a large part of New Jersey, have on-site sewage systems. For their best efficiency, these systems must be maintained, because the price for replacement is well beyond what you might think. I ask that you listen to Rob's show today, and pay close attention as to the maintenance of one of the most expensive portions of your home that you can't see.

© Jack Milne