Archive for March, 2013|Monthly archive page

Adjusting Heat Valve Handles / Leaking Bathroom Exhaust Fan

In Uncategorized on March 13, 2013 at 11:08 am


I am having trouble balancing the heat in my house. It was built in 1940 and has finished ceilings in the basement (A point of interest- you were the inspector on our house before we bought it and did a thorough job – thanks again.) and there are many handles on the ceiling, which turn to let the heat flow to the rooms. I have no idea what I am doing so some of the rooms are cool and some are warm. It seems that somebody should be able to help us out and this is where you come in hopefully. Can you recommend a person or company that would be able to balance the heat properly?


Basement finished ceilings make the job more difficult but not impossible. Since I inspected the house for this reader I called them personally and explained how and also recommended three duct cleaning companies as well as three insulation companies. I will explain why in a minute.

Many, if not most people, do not realize they can and may need to adjust the dampers in their ductwork seasonally. Hot air rises and cold air falls, a fact we learned in high school. So in the summer if your close a few of the dampers and registers to rooms that are seldom used on the first floor, you’ll force more cooler air upstairs where it will eventually settle to the lower level cooling the whole house. Don’t ever close all the vents because you’ll restrict the airflow and defeat what you’re trying to accomplish. Vice versa for the winter months with regard to the dampers.

When the ductwork is visible in the basement, the job is relatively easy. You’ll look to see where the vents terminate. If there is a room and the room’s vent is directly above that area, you’ll know the vent provides conditioned air to that particular room. If not, it goes to the second floor.

In your case, you cannot see the ductwork, just the damper handles. Have someone upstairs put his or her face by the register. Open and close each vent until they feel the airflow change. Don’t rush because it takes time to detect the change. Also tapping on the handle should give them a clue or help them to determine if you’re on the right vent.

So you see, it is a job you can do. I recommended cleaning the ductwork since it had never been done. Be careful since cleaning the ductwork properly takes several hours and costs a minimum of $300.00 to $400.00. Don’t be fooled and become a victim of one of those companies that advertise $99.00 duct cleaning.

I also recommend that you check into adding more insulation to your walls and attic. A house built in the 1940’s usually doesn’t have enough. You can turn your heat all the way up but the cold walls and lack of insulation will suck it away and you’ll still feel drafty as well as poor from your high heating bills.


I live in an end unit condo, which has a bath and a half. In my full bath there is a ceiling ventilator directly over the toilet, which sometimes drips. I have had a board member from the condo over to look at it. He claims it is caused by sweat caused by the attic conditions (pretty vague). If it is caused by sweat, why did it drip recently when the outside temperatures were below freezing? What kind of repairman should I contact? Would it be a roofer, plumber, or someone else?


Believe it or not, they are correct. Warm, moist air migrates or is pulled into the cold attic from the bathroom where it condensates and drips back down.

You have a few ways to eliminate this problem. First, just wrap the exhaust vent pipe in the attic with insulation. The vent pipe should, without exception, be vented through the attic and to the exterior. If it isn’t, do so.

Another solution is to install an “S” trap (almost like you have under your kitchen sink) in the flexible exhaust pipe.

Finally, instead of running the exhaust vent pipe up and through the roof, run it under the insulation over to the nearest roof eave and overhang and have it vent down through the soffit.

 Invite your family and friends to join my blog too!



%d bloggers like this: