drdiy

Buying a New Furnace / Cleaning Faucets / Smelly Crawl Space / Gable Ridge Vents

In Crawl Space, HVAC, Plumbing, Ridge Vents on December 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Q:

I currently have a 1978 standard efficiency furnace that was put in my house. Everyone I talk to about replacing my furnace with a new high-efficiency, 2-stage multi speed model tells me I am going to save 30 to 40-percent on my heating bills. Those telling me this typically have a vested interest, as they want my business. Is it reasonable to expect some serious savings that will make it worthwhile over time?

A:

Over time and especially with rising gas prices, I think, I’d go for it.

I don’t like giving percentages of savings and don’t always believe them, but 25 to 30-percent is not an unlikely savings. The only minor caveat is there is an adjustment period in learning to live with the air, which is not as hot coming out of the registers. Five to ten-percent of people (especially elderly) find the adjustment difficult.

Q:

We have a crawl space and there is a musty, damp odor coming from it. There are vents, which we open in the spring and close during the winter months. Is there a product or chemical we can spray or put down in the crawl to help eliminate this odor?

A:

If you do not have a 6-mil plastic vapor barrier on the dirt floor of the crawlspace, it should be installed. Overlap each piece and tape it in place. The plastic should go up the perimeter walls about six inches and be secured in place with batten strips or mastic.

That odor may be coming from leaking. Correct the cause of the leaking. If anything is rotting, it needs to be replaced. The leak may not be coming from the ground. When you are in the crawlspace, look up and under any areas where there is plumbing.

Q:

When you inspected my house you told the purchaser to seal the gable vents, why?

A:

Your house has a ridge vent. That’s the vent that runs along the very peak of a roof. When you have a ridge vent you must have an equal number or greater amount of soffit ventilation. Soffit vents are the vents that are installed beneath the overhangs and provide some of the actual air intake of air movement through the attic. They should have baffles protecting them in the attic so insulation does not obstruct the air movement.

All other attic vents, such as can, turbines and gable vents, need to be removed when you have ridge vents. If you don’t, the thermal dynamics of the attic ventilation is voided, which could lead to higher heating and cooling costs, ice dams and possibly mold.

By the way, gable vents are the vents at the sides of your house way up near the roof. You can seal the gable vents by nailing a piece of plywood over them from inside the attic.

Q:

We have well water that builds up a residue in our faucets. Is there something that can be done about this other than taking the faucet off and soaking it in vinegar and water?

A:

Obviously installing an in-line filter or softener and filtering system will work, but if your problem is removing the faucet to soak them in vinegar periodically you can accomplish that a lot easier. Have you tried unscrewing and soaking just the aerators at the end of most kitchen and some bathroom faucets. Another trick (which I do occasionally) is to put the vinegar in a zip lock bag and place the showerhead into the bag. Tape the bag in place and leave it for a couple of hours. Remove the tape, turn on the water, and it flows perfectly.

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