Posts Tagged ‘attic’

Are you Spring Cleaning and Considering your Ductwork? Ask why First!

April 7, 2014

Having your ductwork cleaned can be a good thing. With the arrival of spring some of us throw open the windows and start cleaning everywhere, but it’s probably best to find a pro for ducts. They have the right equipment and training to do a thorough job.

If you think the ductwork in your home needs a tune up, it pays to do a little homework first and ask why. Are they musty or dusty? Do they go through a crawlspace, basement or attic? Will you be fixing the problem or just a symptom?old duct uninsulated no airseal (3)
Duct cleaning is not a cure all, and in some cases, unsubstantiated claims are made from contractors taking advantage of our fears of mold and poor indoor air quality. Some unscrupulous contractors present pricing so high that for the same price you could get a new set of ducts installed instead! I’d suggest finding someone who understands that ductwork is part of a house as a system. In other words choose a home performance contractor to do the work, since cleaning ducts won’t help if they constantly pull dirty air from attics and crawlspace every time they run. That’s treating the symptom and not the problem.

Take a look at what the EPA has to say and do it for the right reasons, and have them cleaned knowing you are doing the right thing!

Thanks,
Jason

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Where do you grow your mold, the bathroom or the attic?

February 11, 2013

Sometimes it’s the simple things that can be done to make your home a healthier and safer one.   Bath fans help move a great deal of moisture out of the room and are a really good idea.  But where the moisture goes next is just as important.

IMG_5819

Not quite far enough

 

A ten minute shower can use 16 gallons of water or more, and generate a great deal of steam.    It’s not good to leave all that moisture to accumulate on the walls and ceiling in a small room since it can lead to odors as well as mold growth.

So we fire up the fan and it hums away pulling moisture out of the room to…..the attic?  It seems pretty simple, but  it needs to go to the outside.  Often vents end up in the attic or even worse, buried in insulation or a wall and stop there.   Every exhaust fan in a home needs to vent to the outside.

Maybe your mirror won’t fog up if it vents to the attic, but moisture will build up elsewhere.  Rotting out the roof or growing mold in the attic isn’t any better!    Ice dams and roof damage should not be part of your ventilation strategy!

Bath fans can help the whole house too, and I’ve written about it in the past in taking control of the airways.  Ventilation is important in our homes, make sure excess moisture gets outside!

Thanks,

Jason

In Home Performance Safety is Our Number One Concern!

June 19, 2012

Our advisors and installation crews spend a lot of time in houses.  We use ladders and power tools and crawl around underneath and above homes, especially attics.   We look for air leaks, low insulation levels, electrical concerns, and other hazards.  Safety is a great concern, and occasionally we come across the unexpected; such as sharks.

Sharks: A major safety concern in attics

Sharks: A major safety concern in attics

I’m sure that air leakage from the electrical box is providing plenty of nice indoor air smells, steak cooking, people sleeping.  Seal those leaks and I’m guessing the sharks won’t be so interested.  More insulation in this space is needed too.  Summertime air conditioners have to work twice as hard when there’s so little insulation and air sealing in your attic.  When you want to keep the conditioned air conditioned, hot or cold, putting a good cap on your home is a great start.  What shark would stick around after that?  No good indoor smells, no cool air, not a great place to hang out.

What's for dinner?

What’s for dinner?

If you have sharks in your attic consider a home performance assessment, it’s a great way to take a bite out of your high energy bills and make a home more comfortable and safe.

Thanks,

Jason

2nd Annual Biggest, Baddest Icicles Contest Winner Announced!

March 11, 2011

The cold and snowy winter in Central New York was a dream for fans of icicles, but a nightmare for many homeowners. However pretty, those giant icicles can form devastating ice dams on the edges of your roof, backing up water under your roofing and into the walls. Leaks and structural damage are the symptoms of a bad ice-damming problem, but are only part of a much worse, underlying problem. Ice dams are largely due to inadequate insulation and air sealing in your attic and roof. The precious heat you pump into your home escapes through the roof, melting the snow that rests on top. When the snow reaches the cold edges and eves of the roof, it refreezes into blocks of ice, sometimes weighing hundreds of pounds!

Our 2nd Annual Biggest, Baddest Icicles Contest brought in an impressive display of ice from across Central New York (Facebook album). From giant ice curtains to compact-car-sized heaps, the entries were as varied as they were scary. But we could only pick one home to receive a free comprehensive home energy assessment and $1,000 worth of attic insulation and air sealing to help prevent future instances of ice damming and keep one family warmer, safer and more comfortable, plus put some money back into their pockets!

The Winner of GreenHomes America's 2011 Biggest, Baddest Icicles Contest

And the winner is… Priscilla Thibault’s Victorian home! Like Priscilla says, “this 1858 Victorian house may have charm, but the icicles can be destructive and potentially deadly.” Not only do the icicles present a major safety hazard, but are also tell-tale signs that Pricillas’ valuable heating dollars aren’t all contributing to her family’s comfort – many of them are feeding the monster on her roof! Our crew from Syracuse will be heading out to Priscilla’s home to begin reclaiming her roof, her home’s comfort and her energy bills. Stay tuned for updates!

Thanks to everyone who entered our 2nd Annual Biggest, Baddest Icicles Contest!

Scary attics need insulation, too!

November 29, 2010

At GreenHomes, we spend a lot of time in attics–because attics need a lot attention!  We talk a lot here about air-sealing and insulating attics.  In addition to hazards suchs as electrical, suspect insulation, and falling through the ceiling, we run into a myriad of scary things.  We had a DIYer talking about dead birds.  And here’s a shot passed along by Syracuse Advisor Bill Meadows of an enormous wasps’ nest in the attic of a recent project.  I’m sure glad this project included redecking the roof so that there was easier access to this monstrosity.

big wasp nest in an attic

Be safe up there!

Thanks,
Mike

Vent those bath fans to the outside–NOT into the attic

July 25, 2010

One of the things we look at in homes is the ventilation.  I’ll write more about that in the coming months.  The short version is that good ventilation is necessary to protect your health and your home.

Wait! You say.  Aren’t you making my home tighter with all that air-sealing?  But I need ventilation to bring air in? 

Yes, that’s exactly what we’re trying to do.  In my view, the perfect home would be perfectly tight, with no “natural” exchange of air—but allow you to determine both the rate of air-exchange, and where an how it comes from.  But we’ll save that for another day.  Right now, I’m going to focus on the bathroom—in part because GreenHomes Advisor John Scipione just found another doozy, this one in Fresno, CA.

Bathroom ventilation is particularly important to remove excess moisture (and heat in the summer).  Pulling out this moisture at its source helps prevent the mold and mildew from growing, and that a good thing.

Most of the bathrooms we see have poor ventilation, either no fans or cheap rattle traps which make a lot of noise but don’t move much air.  Adding a well-functioning exhaust is something I highly recommend.

I’ve talked before (maybe putting the cart before the horse?) about the Panasonic and Renewaire bath fans that I like.  Excellent choices.   And keep making good choices by exhausting the air directly to the outside via ducts, and not just into an attic or some other space in the house.  If your contractor says it’s OK to vent into the attic, the best solution may be to find a new contractor.   Dumping moist bathroom air into the attic can help rot your roof.  And remember those ice dams we’ve talked about?  In snow country, exhausting your bath fan into the attic—with all that warm air—is a recipe for ice dams (and more on ice dams).  Don’t do it!

Three bathroom fans exhausting into an attic

Please don't exhaust your bathroom fans into the attic!

Which brings me back to what John found in Fresno.  Exhausting one bath fan into the attic is bad enough.  How about three?  And if you’re going to do three, why not tie them together to concentrate the problem?  At least the installed helped with a well-organized bad practice.  Don’t do it!  Vent to the outside.

Thanks,
Mike


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