Creatures that no longer go bump in the night Suddenly there came a tapping ... There was a commercial on the car radio the other day that kinda sounded intriguing. Now mind you, I’ve only heard it uno times and wasn’t really giving it my undivided attention. But there was this one part that really stuck like crazy glue in my noggin. The company touted they had a device that acted like an “MRI for your walls.” I totally missed the main reason why we’d all be dying to use these services, but I had my suspicions. Now on the surface, this might not seem all that noteworthy. That is unless you have had something perspire in your walls and you can’t find its precise location. Over the years, we’ve had the usual critters dancing the hokey pokey across our attic in the middle of the night. Sometimes we’d swear it was a raccoon, and other nights, it was definitely a water buffalo. Yeah, and on occasion, we’ve even had a few decide to make our attic, or wall, its final resting spot. The one that croaked right above our fireplace flue in the family room was the worst. The reeking bouquet is something you never forget. Fortunately, the dearly departed must have always been smaller than a Shipley’s donut box. You could tell by the faint aroma that something in the attic was ever so slowly decomposing, but it wasn’t like you were sniffing your armpits to perform a Procter & Gamble Secret deodorant check every five minutes. After several weeks, the decomposition cycle would run its course and life would return to normal. Most fortunate for the Frantz family, all our dance fever critters seemed to enjoy frolicking in the front part of the attic far, far away from the kid’s bedrooms. That was … until several weeks ago. “Can’t quite put my finger on it, but there is something that smells kinda rank coming from Mimi’s room,” I said to hubby one evening. Mimi, often times referred to as our princess on a pillow, is our special needs daughter over which we are quite the protective parents. The first night we both spot checked under the bed and under the dresser. Nothin’. The mildly stinky aroma didn’t seem to be permeating from any one location in her room. It was just all over the room. After a couple of days, the odor was getting a little more intense, so we employed what we thought were desperate measures. We pulled clothes out of the dresser drawers and everything off the shelves in the closet. Heck, something like a field mouse coulda got into the house and crawled into a tiny corner and died. But nope, still nothin’. By the weekend we were getting mighty anxious. “Maybe something died in the attic above her room,” puzzled Rick. But a thorough check of the attic proved fruitless. I know this is beginning to sound a lot like a Nancy Drew mystery … but still the odor remained. “I betcha nine dollars something died in the wall,” hubby finally said. That was when Rick retrieved his moisture meter from his truck. Being an engineer, I knew the guy had lots of toys of the trade, but I’d never been formally introduced to this one. It turned out the small box-like device measured moisture on a dial. I watched as he held the unassuming device up to the sheetrock all over our daughter’s room. Sure enough, after several minutes, the meter pegged out low on one of the outside walls. “Now what do we do?” I asked. It wasn’t ten minutes later that the guy had a big gaping hole opened up in Mimi’s wall pulling out damp insulation. No decaying critter appeared behind the batts, but from the smell, we were clearly close to solving our dilemma. Whatever we were looking for had apparently left this mortal planet much higher in the wall and was dripping its bodily fluids all over the insulation. After a quick trip to the hardware store, Rick sprinkled some chemicals inside the wall that would take care of the smell, replaced the insulation, and mega-patched the wall. Just like Nancy Drew, the mystery was finally solved. But I silently wondered if that company on the radio ad claiming to MRI our walls was duping their clients with a simple moisture meter. Dixie Frantz is a Kingwood resident and newspaper columnist for the past decade. E-mail Dixie with your comments at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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