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Lingering Smoke Smell From Fireplace / Dripping Bathroom Exhaust Fan / Should You Wrap Your AC Unit? / Condensation on Interior Windows

In Q&A on January 29, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Q:

I have a problem with the fireplace in my Bloomfield Hills home. I burn only man-made logs as do many of my friends but they do not experience the smell I am having. I keep the glass doors open when burning the log and clean out any remains after a day or so but still have a lingering smoke smell. I have used the chimney cleaning type log in attempts to correct this problem. What can I do?

A:

Numerous factors could be causing your problem. By the process of elimination I’ll attempt an answer.

Next time you use your fireplace leave a window in the room open slightly. If it stops smoking call Xavier Inc. at 734-462-1033 or www.equiliz-air.com. Jimmy has an inexpensive product that provides clean make-up air and to stop your problem.

If it still smells, have someone inspect the chimney cap and wash. That’s the top of the chimney where the yellow or orange colored flue liner comes through. If it is cracked (and they usually are) or not built properly, moisture cab get down in and around the flue causing a smoky, sour odor to linger for several days. Sound familiar?

Q:

I have a ventilation fan in my master bathroom that vents through the attic to a sidewall of the house. The problem is that during cold weather water drips from the fan onto the bathroom floor. I went into the attic to make sure the vent tube is not angled toward the ceiling and found a puddle of water collected inside the tubing.

A:

The fan is exhausting condensation. That moisture is condensing when it gets in the cold attic.

First and easiest step is to wrap the entire vent pipe with insulation. Wrap it with R-19 fiberglass. Do not wrap it real tight since fiberglass is most effective when fluffy with air pockets. You can secure it to the exhaust pipe using wire or duct tape.

If that does not solve the problem, relocate where your vent pipe is exiting the attic. Possibly the sidewall it is currently going to has the wind blowing the condensation backward.

Q:

I wrap my whole house air conditioner unit in the winter to protect it. My neighbor said you told him not to do that, why?

A:

What are you protecting it from? The elements? It was built and designed to be outside in the snow, ice, rain and wind.

If you wrap it, the wind cannot circulate air and the unit will rust prematurely. More importantly, covering it will provide a nice nesting place for mice and chipmunks. To rodents, the red and black wires look like licorice and they gnaw on the wiring. Plus, you’ll have to clean out the fecal mess in the spring.

At the most, put a piece of plywood on the top of the unit and hold it in place with a couple bricks. That should keep it clean enough and protect it from falling icicles.

Q:

My windows have heavy condensation on them in the mornings. I have never experienced this before. My three-bedroom, 40-year old ranch is on a crawl space with no humidifier. All the windows have storms on them.

A:

Physics teaches us that hot goes to cold. That being said, warm moist air in your house collects on the coldest surfaces. In your case the windows. I expect you’ll find frost on the underside of your attic as well.

Since you don’t have a humidifier to add humidity, you need to ask yourself where is the moisture coming from?

Here are the most likely sources for your house:

  • The crawl space is culprit #1.
  • Do you have and use kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans? Are they vented to the attic?
  • How many plants do you have in your house? They need and release tremendous amounts of moisture.
  • Do you have any aquariums?

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