The House Whisperer

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

Email Box Revisted (Vol. 6)
Once again, I dig deep into the email box to respond to letters that I feel will benefit all of my listeners. The topics of today's show include: insulation and high energy bills, inspection organizations, mold, and the compliance statement that is required for Pennsylvania home inspectors to utilize. Listen in, especially if you are getting ready to buy real estate.
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.
Phil Getty From Boucher & James
(215-345-9400) I brought back Phil Getty, who is an environmental hydro geologist, to discuss home exterior plant issues. Phil has been a previous guest on this show, and I asked that he revisit The House Whisperer to talk about some of the effects that plants can have on your home. We discuss putting any type of flowers or grass on a septic field, how vegetation can improve energy efficiency on a house, concerns about planting bushes and trees too close to the home, shotgun spores from your mulch, ivy on your home, and even bamboo. Listen in, as you may start to look at the plants around your home a little differently.
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.
Emailbox Revisited: Volume 10
It seems that whenever I revisit the emailbox, more emails come in and as always, I appreciate that. Volume 10 discusses the dilemma of rent vs. buy, the difference between inspecting a shore property and a home where you spend 90 percent of your time, home inspector pricing, how to properly operate heat pumps, and finally, a rumor that The House Whisperer may be hanging up the microphone. Listen in, as the information is always useful, and may apply to you as well.
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.
PECO Smart Meters: What's Next?
As you may be aware, PECO has been replacing your electric meters over the past year or so. Currently, more than 620,000 of you have had your meters replaced, but what does this truly mean? PECO has been granted another $282,000,000 to complete this program, 5 years earlier than planned. There are still 1.6 million PECO users that will have their meters replaced by the end of 2014. There are going to be two types of pricing in the future; one, known as "dynamic" pricing and the other, known as "time of use" pricing. Keep in mind, rates will absolutely be going up, and I ask that you listen in to this show so that you know how to plan your future.
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.
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.
Jack Answers Listener Emails
This segment is dedicated to the faithful listeners of The House Whisperer Show. Over the past weeks, I have received numerous questions from my listeners that I wanted to address. From the beginning, The House Whisperer Show has been dedicated to my listeners. This show will cover questions regarding common elements in everyone's home, including the use of central humidifiers, heat pumps, filter maintenance, properly operating your air conditioning system, termites in cold weather periods, and opinions about buying a home during the questionable government shutdown. I ask that you listen in and respond back to if there are any questions that you would like to put before me.
Holiday Safety: Food for Thought
"Tis the season for the holidays! With Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas, no matter the religion or the faith, it's about family, friends, and the sharing of love. On this show, I talk about kitchen safety. Although we may take this for granted, I ask that you listen in because not only do I talk about how to properly cook a turkey with two pans, but it's also a light episode about having fun, how to keep the kids (and the guys) out of the kitchen, and keeping the mayhem to a minimum. I talk about energy efficiency when using the refrigerator, and other alternatives than being locked in the kitchen. Have a great Holiday.
Email Box Revisited: Series 2
Every once in a while, I dive into the email box to pull letters from my listeners so as to cover topics that are relevant to us all. This segment includes the use of pre-fabricated fireplaces, purchasing generators, roof replacement during cold weather, and finally, aging water heaters. If any of these topics are relevant to you, I ask that you listen in, and as always, feel free to email me at Your letter may make it on the air.
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.
Generators, Their Maintenance, and Those New-Fangled Lightbulbs
Discussion with Electrician Glen Aust (Phone # 215-357-5259) Over the past several years, more and more generators have been installed due to our ongoing changing climate. Glen Aust, who has been an electrician for more than 25 years, is my go-to guy for generator installation and maintenance. Through the years, he has also provided upgrades as well as general services to my home and business. With the eventual removal of incandescent bulbs, and the popularity of either fluorescent or LED bulbs, today's episode will touch on both aspects. If you have a generator, please listen in, because like any other machine, they do require annual maintenance. And if you are considering what kind of bulb to buy next, Glen can provide you with the appropriate insight.
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.
Exterior Lighting: Should You Do It Yourself Or Hire Out?
Discussion with Glen Aust of GA Electric (215-357-5259 or 610-346-8129) I bring back Glen Aust from GA Electric to discuss multiple options for exterior lighting. Summer is definitely upon us, and as you look across your patios and decks, if you are wondering how to bring a dramatic effect to these areas, I would ask that you listen in. We cover solar, low voltage lighting, both up and down lighting, as well as bring back the old familiar lamp post. Before you make that purchase, I would heed Glen's advice.
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.
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.
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.
Oil Heat And The Philadelphia Air Quality: It's A Toxic Situation
Within the past few weeks, the City Council in Philadelphia introduced a bill, which has since passed, to bring down the amount of sulphur dioxide that is spewed into our atmosphere from clients being sold oil with a high sulphur count. Sulphur dioxide on a hazy day can lead to asthma related issues for both our youngsters as well as our elderly citizens. I ask that you listen in to understand what is going on around you, even though 6% of Philadelphians still use oil as their primary source of heat.
Labor Day Is Here: The Transition To Fall Starts Now
Although fall doesn't become official until some time in October, typically the Labor Day weekend is the unofficial end of summer. With that in mind, this show covers various topics that you should jump on now, rather than wait until it's too late. Some of the topics I discuss are the appropriate type of gutter guards to install, whether your gutters themselves are in poor shape and need updating, driveway sealing, evaluating your roof, leaves and branches, the potential of installing a generator, and getting ready for winter projects. This list goes on and on, but I can't give away all of my secrets. Listen in, and let's get ready for the fall season.
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!
We Visit The Mailbox (Volume 4)
It's been a few months since I dedicated a show to my listeners. I spend this segment answering questions that can pertain to everybody. Ryan from Manayunk had a question about his older home with radiators and service contracts, Susan from Warrington had fall questions about planting shrubs, Shaun from Willow Grove had questions regarding screen panels in his newer insulated windows, Carol from Philadelphia has an older 100amp service and had questions about its replacement, Paul from New Hope lives in the country and wanted my opinion on generators. I ask that you listen in, as some of the issues that my listeners have may pertain to you as well.
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.
Thermostats: How They Work And How To Use Them
That little dial that sits in your living or dining room directly affects your wallet. The thermostat, which controls the heating and cooling and the overall comfort of the home, has to be used properly whether it is a one-zone or multi-zone unit. Air conditioning, as well as heat pumps, have their own set of rules. I ask that you listen in, as this show is for all of us who are going to raise our thermostats, getting ready for the winter season.
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.
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.
Trials and Tribulations of Being a Home Inspector: Part 2
I had so much fun last week, that I wanted to continue with the next few chapters.
  • Chapter 6: The water valve
  • Chapter 7: Clients in the attic
  • Chapter 8: Jack, you will check the operation of the fireplace damper and flue, right?
  • Chapter 9: The panel box
  • Chapter 10: The vacant house
  • Chapter 11: The Kugelman approach

    I ask that you listen in, as the stories are light and fun, but at the same time you'll begin to understand what I do for a living.

    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".
    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.
    Email Box Revisited: Volume 9
    Once again, I delve deep down into the email box and pull out letters from my listeners about topics that I feel are relevant to everybody. Today's topics include the importance of getting an appraisal, as well as a pre-listing home inspection, before you put your house on the market, the clearing of trees and branches over your roof line (should it be done now or after the leaves fall?), installing a drybed for water treatment equipment, replacing your roof during the winter months, and finally, orphaned water heaters (what that means and how it can be relevant to not only your health, but the health of your home as well). Listen in, as the topics are great, and everyone can take an opportunity to learn a few more things about their house.

  • © Jack Milne