Whistling pipes? Sounds like pressure problem

Ask the Expert Home Improvement
Associated Press file

Q. I live in a 50-year-old Cape, and when I use the shower on the second floor, I hear a whistling sound coming from the pipes. Also, the water pressure is really poor when more than one thing is drawing water. For example, if I flush the toilet and the shower is going, the water pressure in the shower diminishes.


A. I am going to answer this assuming you’re on city water. You need to determine whether this issue is a housewide one or related to a fixture. If you have low water pressure in only one location, it could be a clogged shower head or aerator, which limits the flow of water through the head.

For a showerhead

Remove the end of the shower head and look for debris or buildup. You can clean it by soaking it in a water-vinegar solution. If that doesn’t work, replace it.

For an aerator

Replace the aerator. If the water flow is not restored to normal, the source of low water pressure is probably not the specific faucet but an overall problem.

If it’s an overall problem, have a plumber check for leaks and inspect your water meter and valves. Blockage at the valves and elbows is common for older pipes. Older valves often have a filter that can become blocked by mineral deposits and rust.

Q. I am looking for information on installing 8-inch V-groove western red cedar. The installation on our home is in a vertical pattern, and the product was factory-stained. Unfortunately, the manufacturer said it was installed improperly and will fail in just a few years.

Is this true? My installer blind-nailed the product to ½-inch ZIP sheathing without any other blocking below. According to the manufacturer, it needed to be face-nailed with ring-shank nails into 1¼-inch strapping. Of course we can just ring-shank-nail it now, but they say this will do nothing, that the blocking is the real issue and that at ½ inch, the ring-shank nails will not have the holding power.

Any info will be greatly appreciated. We are very disappointed and upset after spending so much on the real-cedar upgrade. It’s no better than what was on the house for 48 years prior.

NICK ESPOSITO, Guilford, Conn.

A. I’ve seen many installs nailed directly to the sheathing last many, many years. Cedar siding, however, should be fastened to the framing and/or strapping and/or blocking (installed between the framing). Note my use of “and/or.’’ Blind nailing is fine. Did the installer use the proper nails? You can always add stainless-steel face nails in areas where there is framing, such as:

■ In each wall stud (nail to the left and right of all windows and doors);

■ In the rim joist at the basement and all floor levels;

■ In top-plate areas.

By simply doing this you will have enough nails to secure that siding, I promise you.

Installing over strapping is designed to provide an air space, also called a “rain screen,’’ which allows moisture control and drying of the wood front and back. It is the best method but one rarely followed. Adding strapping causes other issues like recessed windows. Also, rain screens often fail at the flashing areas, so these need to be done carefully. Many contractors are unfamiliar with this rain screen method, and many customers don’t want to pay for the expense.

Did the contractor provide a proposal? If he listed “follow manufacturer install recommendations,’’ then you gripe is definitely with him. If he listed another method (blind nailing applied to sheathing), then he did what he said he would do. Your situation does not seem like you’re headed for a catastrophic siding failure.

Rob Robillard is a general contractor, carpenter, editor of, and principal of a carpentry and renovation business. Send your questions to or tweet them to @robertrobillard. Subscribe to the Globe’s free real estate newsletter at