What’s That Smell? – On the House

What’s That Smell?

By on June 20, 2020
What's That Smell?

What’s that smell?

Do you need to upgrade your irrigation system?

Is there an unidentifiable smell in your house?

Need to make your space more relaxing?

Missed our live show? Don’t worry! Because we have a podcast of the show. It’s the same thing we aired on the radio, but ready for you whenever and wherever you are! Check it out here. 

Time for an irrigation system upgrade? 

Like anything else, irrigation systems wear out over time. Sprinklers stop turning, arcs stop being adjustable, valves fail to open or close and controllers stop functioning. Additionally, new technologies and better equipment are on the market that improve efficiencies and save water and money for customers. For any of these reasons, an irrigation system will at some point need upgrading, but how do you determine when? 

Why upgrade? 

There are many ways in which an irrigation system can signal that it needs to be upgraded. For example, the water use may have escalated or the landscape appearance may have deteriorated. Another sign is that the number of service calls has increased or the cost to maintain the system has become excessive. 

A system may also need to be upgraded due to changes in regulations. Some cities have new ordinances that have been passed that do not allow water to be thrown over or across a sidewalk. In California, you can be fined for irrigation water running off of your property. In order to prevent that from continuing, the system most likely will need to be upgraded with a new sprinkler configuration, nozzles and/or controller. 

Lastly, time may have just passed and the system is just plain old. 

Upgrading options 

There are many options available to upgrading a system. Upgrading means just that: upgrading. It does not mean the whole irrigation system has to be abandoned and replaced. An upgrade could consist of just something as simple as changing the sprinklers. The existing sprinklers could have stopped turning, don’t pop up high enough or distribute water poorly and it’s time to be more water efficient. 

An upgrade could also include replacing the valves because they are no longer opening or are stuck open or maybe additional features such as flow control or pressure regulation are needed. Additionally, the diaphragms could be worn, cracked or dried out or the solenoids past there life cycle. Wiring could be bad due to construction damage or years of being under water, especially if waterproof connections were not used when the system was originally installed. An upgrade could consist of just replacing the controller. This could be desirable to provide more flexibility in scheduling, to change to a smart controller to be more sustainable, by reducing overall irrigation water use or because the controller just quit working. 

Irrigation system lifespan 

The length of time the complete irrigation system lasts can be a short time to a very long time. Normally, the system doesn’t wear out; just the various components do. There are two things that wear on the irrigation system: location and number of cycles. The two are usually, but not always, directly related It all comes down to cycles. The more often the system goes on and off, the more wear there will be. If you have a system that you use cycle and soak on — water a little, let it soak in and then water some more — that system will turn on and off more and the components will also wear faster. 

Upgrades may also be required due to the maturing landscape. As the landscape grows it may interfere with the irrigation system sprinklers’ water distribution or require more water as trees and other landscape materials grow. This is especially true with point source systems, which need to be adjusted for the amount of water applied as the landscape grows and matures. The maturing landscape can require sprinklers to be moved or alter the type of irrigation necessary. 

Minor upgrades or major overhaul? 

So, how do you tell the difference between when a system just needs minor upgrades versus knowing when the system needs a complete overhaul/replacement? The simplest way is to log the service calls and make sure you document what the service call was for: pipe break, bad splice, broken sprinkler, bad solenoid, etc. That way you can look at trends. 

If the trending is showing frequent component failures are occurring, the easier it will be to make the decision as to whether to continue to repair the system versus replace the system. For example, how many pipe breaks have there been and were they on the mainline before the valve or on the lateral after the valve? Are the breaks always in the same place or are they spread out throughout the system? 

Pipe breaks are a sign of major issues with the system, such as high pressure or excessive velocities. High pressures may not break the system like high velocities, but they will prematurely wear the components and make the system less efficient. If pipe failures cannot be determined and continue to occur, that means piping replacement or a major overhaul 


They say everything old is new again  

Moroccan Tadelakt Plaster Finish (pronounce as Tad’illac) has re-surfaced as the new darling of designers!  

What is tadelakt?   

Tadelakt is a traditional Moroccan wall surfacing technique composed of lime plaster and black soap made from olives. When the ingredients are combined, a chemical reaction between the two creates a waterproof membrane, making tadelakt walls suitable for wet areas like showers and baths.  

Why use tadelakt? 

Aside from its beauty, arguably the biggest perk to tadelakt is that there are no seams or grout lines in its application. It’s also made from entirely natural materials, does not contain volatile organic compounds, and it’s naturally mold and mildew resistant. 

Is tadelakt suitable for anywhere in the house? 

Tadelakt is the Rolls-Royce of lime plaster finishes, so you’ll want to use it only in places where waterproofing is required—bathrooms mainly, and sometimes kitchens. It can be applied throughout the entire house, but do that only if you have money to burn; it’s significantly more expensive than standard lime plaster because of the burnishing required to make it waterproof, so use tadelakt in the wet areas and a regular lime plaster finish everywhere else. 

Think about it this way: Where you might typically use paint, use regular lime plaster. But where paint won’t do (shower walls, maybe your kitchen backsplash), opt for tadelakt instead. 

Is tadelakt durable? 

“If it is not cared for it correctly, it can failusing harsh chemicals like bleach will destroy the delicate limestone surface. If the walls are maintained properly—meaning avoiding harsh cleaners—it’s remarkably easy to maintain.” It can also be waxed yearly to make it additionally resistant to stains. 

Does tadelakt look like regular lime plaster? 

Tadelakt has the organic, handmade look of lime plaster, but with a shinier finish due to the heavy burnishing. It’s not reflective like Venetian plaster, but it’s very smooth to the touch.”. 


What’s that smell in my house?  

It may not be what you think it is! 

You walk in the front door and something smells off. Is it trash? Dirty clothes? Something worse? 

A weird smell in your house can be caused by something as benign as old food that needs to be thrown away, but it could reveal a dangerous gas leak, fire or pest problem. 

Here’s what you may be smelling in your house, and the potential causes: 

Here’s what you may be smelling in your house, and the potential causes: 


Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Cooking over an open flame, burning candles or using your fireplace can increase your chances of starting an accidental fire that can damage your home and spread quickly if not put out. It’s a good idea to have a fire extinguisher on hand in case a fire starts. 

However, the electric wiring throughout your home can also become afire hazardif it’s old, misused or becomes damaged. The U.S. Fire Administration reports there are about 45,000 home electrical fires per year, and half of them involve lighting or electrical wiring. An electrical fire in your home can start in walls, outlets or appliances. If you see smoke coming from an overloaded power strip or appliance and can safely unplug it, do so. 

Especially if you’re unaware of the cause, if you smell smoke inside your home, call 911 and leave the building immediately. 


Not all fire hazards smell like smoke. If your nose is catching a fishy smell and you haven’t cooked any fish, it could be a sign of electrical components overheating, which can lead to an electrical fire. Wires, plastic and other parts of a circuit can give off a fishy smell when they’re getting too hot and starting to burn. 

If you’re smelling fish and you’re not cooking seafood, contact an electrician for an emergency visit to diagnose the issue. If you start smelling or seeing smoke, call 911 and get out of your home immediately. 

Rotten Eggs 

Natural gas does not have a smell on its own –utility companiesadd the smell of rotten eggs to help notify consumers if there’s a gas leak. If you suddenly smell rotten eggs, leave your house immediately and get everyone else out with you. A natural gas leak, if it comes into contact with a flame or spark, can cause an explosion. The American Gas Association advises against turning any lights or appliances on or off or starting your car. You should wait to use a phone to call 911 or your local utility company until you’re safely away from the smell of gas and away from your home. If you can, notify your neighbors to leave the area as well. 


If you’re smelling rotten garbage, it probablyisrotten garbage and you should take it out. If the smell doesn’t appear to be coming from yourtrash can, go shelf by shelf in your refrigerator and pantry to identify whether food has gone bad. Also check dirty dishes and countertops, and turn on your garbage disposal with the water running and pour some dish soap down the drain. 

Aside from the unpleasant smell, rotting food will attract pests of all kinds, from flies to cockroaches to mice and rats. When you discover the source of the smell, clean it but before (pests) get to it – if they’re not already there.. 

Oily Smell 

A dirty, oily smell is often associated with a cockroach infestation. This oily smell may be from the pheromones that cockroaches produce to attract a mate or inform others of a food source. 

The most potent smell that will lead you tocockroachesisn’t their pheromones. Typically, what people are smelling when they have cockroach issues is that food source. 

Getting rid of the food source and adding a couple traps may solve a minor cockroach problem. However, if the infestation appears to be well-established and you’re finding that the insects are getting food in more than one location, contact a pest control company to tackle the problem more aggressively. 

Animal Urine 

If you’re smelling animal urine or feces in a part of your home and there’s no way apet had an accident, you may have a wild animal inside your home. Mice and rats aren’t likely to give off a potent odor if they’re just scurrying by, but you’re more likely to smell their urine and feces in places they congregate – either at a food source or nest. 

The smell of animal urine could also be from squirrels, raccoons and opossums, which are known to get into walls and attics and leave behind droppings. Be sure to dispose of any food source to prevent and get rid of any unwanted animals in your house. Close up any holes where the animals may be getting in, and consider setting traps or contacting professionals – especially for an animal nest, which can be difficult to get rid of. 


If your house or a specific room has a continuous stuffy, musty scent, you’re likely smelling mold. 

Mold can grow just about anywhere in the home where moisture can get in, although attics,basementsand crawl spaces are the most common areas to see mold. 

In places where you don’t see mold, it’s possible the growth is occurring behind your walls. In this case, you or a professional will need to cut exploratory holes in the wall to find the source. While you want to remove any and all mold from your home as quickly as possible, you don’t need to evacuate the house – even if the mold is black. A common misconception is that black mold is more toxic to people than other types of mold. While some people may be more sensitive to a certain fungus strain, all types of mold can have negative health effects. 

You may even be able toremove the moldyourself with the right safety equipment, including goggles, gloves and a mask to cover your nose and mouth, as well as over-the-counter cleaning agents designed for mold. Be sure you’re also repairing the source of moisture that’s caused the mold, whether it’s a leaky pipe or high humidity levels in a dark corner. 


If you suddenly notice the smell of raw sewage somewhere in your home, it’s likely coming from a drain you haven’t used in a while. It could be the result of a dry P-trap, which is a part of yourplumbingthat stores a small amount of water to prevent sewer gas from coming into your home. 

If you’re smelling sewage from the drain, the P-trap has dried up, likely because the water evaporated after not being used for a long time. Simply pour water down the drain to allow the P-trap to fill again, and be sure to periodically run the water in every sink and tub or shower to prevent evaporation in the future. Open some windows to rid of any lingering sewage smell from your home. 

If the sewage smell persists, you may have an issue with the wax seal for your toilet or a backup somewhere in your home. A plumber may be able to diagnose the issue quickly. 


5 Accessories to make your home more relaxing 

For many people, home is a place where you can relax and settle down after a busy day of work and running errands. It’s important for a home to be serene so that you can properly unwind and recharge. Here are a few accessories to make your home morerelaxing and tranquil. 

  1. Fountain

Enjoy the soothing sound of water with a fountain that can be installed inside of the home or in the yard. A fountain will enhance the serenity of the home and make it easy to feel at peace. The goreous addition will also act as a decorative accent that adds to the aesthetics of the property. Fountains can be placed in a courtyard, garden, or in the entryway of a home to create an inviting space. 

  1. Hot Tub

You can create a relaxing oasis by installing a hot tub in the backyard. Hot tubs can be enjoyed each season — from stargazing in the summer to spending time with family and friends in the winter. The relaxing sound of the bubbles will soothe and allow your muscles to relax. When looking for spas, you can choose to have one installed in the ground, next to a pool or above-ground. 

  1. Hammock

A hammock can be enjoyed during the warmer months of the year when you want to spend time outdoors and lounge in the backyard. A hammock is the perfect place to enjoy swaying back and forth while reading a good book or closing your eyes for a nap. Hammocks can be tied between two trees in the yard or even used with a mount for a relaxing accessory that the whole family can use. 

  1. Sound Machine

Many homes are located on busy streets or in downtown areas, which can make for a noisy environment. Use a sound machine where you can listen to relaxing noises for an easy way to let go of the day’s worries. The sound machine will block out the sound of traffic, ambulances, or nearby construction in the neighborhood. Instead, you’ll be able to relax to the sound of the ocean, white noise, rainfall, and water. Try using the sound machine throughout the day to feel more at ease when cooking or cleaning. 

  1. Wind Chimes

Wind chimes are a fun accessory to add to your home that will add extra decor to the space as well as beautiful sounds. You can place wind chimes on a patio or on the front porch, which will move softly throughout the day and night. This will make it easy to listen to natural and soft music as the wind chimes move, which creates a soothing environment. 

By incorporating these accessories, you’ll enjoy unwinding in a serene environment that will feel like home. 


Mentioned Links 

Thank you to our guest~ 

FIBRENEW President- Jesse Johnstone  

8003452951  |   https://www.fibrenew.com 

A very special thank you to all of our callers! We live to answer your questions, so keep them coming! 

Thank you to our Technical Support: 

  • Danny Bringer – Chief Engineer  
  • Carol “Remodeling Babe” Carey – Executive Producer  
  • Sam Reed – Associate Producer  
  • Rico Figliolini – Digital Master 


Thank you for tuning in What’s That Smell?! And check in next week for more cool tips! 

“What’s That Smell?” Show Notes for On The House with the Carey Brothers aired June 20, 2020. 

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