drdiy

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In Q&A on January 23, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Q:
I want to install an exhaust fan in my bathroom. What brand do you suggest?

A:
The brand is not as important as size. There are several criteria you should follow. You need to know about the amount of cubic feet in the area so you know how much volume of air to move around.

To determine, measure height times the length times the width of the bathroom and it will equal cubic feet. You’ll want a fan that has a capacity to change the air a minimum of 8 times per hour. Multiply the cubic feet by 8, which gives you the cubic feet per hour. Divide that by 60 minutes to get your cubic feet per minute (CFM). All fans are stamped with that number.

Also, get a fan with the lowest “sone”. The lower the sone number, the quieter the fan. Finally, vent the exhaust fan to the exterior and not into the attic.

Q:
We have a leak in our radiant heating pipes in the concrete flooring. Is there a way to detect a water leak? How do we find it?
One previous time we contacted a plumber who jack hammered nine different holes in our floor in different sections and found a leak below a closet floor. Is there a detector available because we want to avoid this happening again? We listen to air gurgling by putting our ear on the concrete floor and that is not pinpointing a distinct spraying sound.

A:
Thermographic imaging devices detect cold and/or hot areas in walls, ceilings, floors, etc. Companies that do thermography can be found by Googling “infra-red thermography”. They can easily pinpoint where your leak is occurring beneath the slab. That’s because the temperature of the water leak will be different from the surrounding soil.

By now, you’ve realized the code has changed and they no longer bury any plumbing or heating pipes in a slab unless they are wrapped and protected from the concrete. Concrete is acidic and slowly disintegrates copper and galvanized pipes. Additionally, the pipes expand and contract, that movement against concrete wears them out.

Q:
I have lived in my Bloomfield Township tri-level home for 12 years and noticed the humidity ranges from 65 to 75-percent. The lowest it has ever been is 55-percent in the dead of winter when the furnace runs. What would you think is the cause of the humidity?

A:
Your humidity level is indeed too high. At that level, I would expect serious mold problems. Your humidity level should be around 35-percent.

Some questions you should investigate:
•    Do you have a crawl space and if so, is it dry and ventilated?
•    Do you have and use a kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans and are they vented to the exterior?
•    Do you have many plants or aquariums in the house? They produce tremendous amounts of moisture in the air.
•    Have you had the furnace inspected? Faulty furnace heat exchangers not only put hazardous carbon monoxide into the air but also excessive moisture.

Q:
My furnace started making loud expansion noises this past January. The noise starts when the burner ignites and continues until the blower has run for about a minute and then all is quiet until next time.

I have the furnace serviced every fall and have had three companies that cannot find the reason for the noise. They tell me I have to live with it or replace the furnace.

A:
I’ve said this before. It’s probably not opportunity knocking but your ductwork.

This is not an uncommon problem especially with ranch homes that have long runs of ductwork. As they get warmer they expand. If there is not enough room for the movement, you will hear banging, knocking or ticking noises.

If that is the case, just locating the suspect area and screwing a piece of 1×2 at a diagonal to the outside of the ductwork usually will correct the problem. If it doesn’t work, a heating contractor can cut and install a cloth separator to eliminate the noise.

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