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In Q&A on January 16, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Questions and Answers

Q:

You inspected a house for us six years ago and because of the thoroughness of your inspection we did not buy the house. We now are in a condo and are having a problem we thought you might be able to help us with.

Our bedroom faces the lake and the west winds. Our guest room is on the opposite side of the condo over the garage. During the winter one of these rooms are always freezing cold, sometimes only 55-degrees. The builders said they did what they could, or what they were willing to do and that was to add more insulation in the attic. This did not fix the problem and over the years we’ve had to resort to using a space heater. I’ve come to learn (over the years) that everyone who owns this same model has the same problem.

Recently I had a Family Heating, Cooling and Electrical out and they said with units like ours they put in zones, but with a finished basement, this was not possible. They did suggest installing boosters in the vents but from what I’ve been told by others, this would not solve my problem, so I am leery.

As far as the rooms that get cold, it is always one or the other that gets this way, and depends on which direction the wind is blowing. Do you think I should have blown-in insulation put into the walls before I have them install the induct blower?

A:

When the builder added more insulation they should have also added blown-in insulation within the west wall, not just in the ceiling. Insulation should also be added (or installed if there is none) into the ceiling of the room over the garage as well as to the ceiling of the garage.

I trust Family Heating, Cooling and Electrical. They are a good company and if they feel there is no other alternative but to add an induct blower then go with their suggestion. But I would do it along with having more insulation added.

Q:

We came across an article, which stated that all cracks and other cold entry points in the attic should be closed off to reduce heat loss. That makes sense, but isn’t it the way our house and many others were originally constructed?

A:

There are two schools of thought. One says keep the heat you’re paying for in the house, below the ceiling. It also suggests that the attic should be ventilated using roof and soffit vents. What causes a problem is that most people do not seal all openings to the attic (areas around the chimney, scuttles, recessed lights, fans, chases, etc.)

With enough insulation and ventilation, as well as sealing all energy leaks, this is an excellent design for our area (summer and winter).

Totally sealing and enclosing the entire attic using a product such as an Icynene Insulation System® is another process. They close/seal all attic vents and spray on an expanding insulation. This product is an excellent insulation, as well as an air barrier. While I like the product, I personally would only use it for cathedral ceilings or attics with HVAC. You can do your own research on it by going to www.icynene.com or calling 800-758-7325.

Q:

I have read a number of articles regarding the need to test for radon, but I have never read what steps need to be taken if the test indicates a reading above the “safe” limit. If radon levels are high, what’s next?

A:

If it is a Real Estate transaction and the level is 4 pCi/L or higher, mitigate it. Expect to pay $800. – $1000. If not part of a purchase and the result is greater than 4 pCi/L but less than 10, perform a follow-up measurement. If a long-term follow-up is performed and the result is less than 4 pCi/L you should be ok. If greater that 10 pCi/L, remediate. Always average the results of the initial and follow-up measurements. If the result is less than 4 pCi/L, consider testing again in the future, if the average results are greater than 4 pCi/L mitigate. To check your house, call a home inspector or environmental company.

 

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