email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My House Is Leaky

I mentioned Friday that I had an energy inspector visit to see if I had sufficient problems to justify my electrical supplier subsidizing a further more detailed test  surprise, surprise, I did).  So a guy came by today to do a "negative air blower test" and examine all the rooms with an infrared camera to identify hotspots.

The air blower test was neat.  He opened the front door, sealed the opening, and turned on a large fan to pull air in from outside the house.  The pressure difference inside shows how much leakage there is.
While that was going on, he went from room to room taking pictures (I assume) to show where the hotspots were as outside air was being pulled into the house through gaps.  He showed me the camera display, and I have to admit there were many places that quickly got hotter in the places that one should expect.

I will be getting a fixed quote from the company in about a week.  From what the initial inspector suggested, the usual fixes are baffles in the attic that direct outside air from the roof soffits up to the roof ridge vent, additional blown-in insulation, expanding foam sealant around attic and basement beams and vent pipes.  The quote should also have a secondary section of things I can do or arrange myself (and that they will do if I choose) like an attic exhaust fan, new water heater.

I think this is all legitimate, though it isn't the kinds of things I can verify myself.  The company is part of an energy savings program sponsored (and subsidized) by my electrical supplier, they have a top rating on Angieslist, and the electrical supplier has previously advised me that I use more electricity than neighbors in similar houses.

I asked about window leakage (through the glass and around the frames).  He mentioned that the  EPA (Environmental Protection Agency for my non-US readers) has a list of most common energy losses.  They are in order; gaps, insufficient insulation, inefficient heating/airconditioning units, old water heaters, incandescent lights, windows, and large TVs.  I plan to replace the windows and old water heater anyway.  And he replaced (for free - subsidized by my electrical supplier) all my incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent ones.  I had already switched many fixtures to CFLs or LEDs where they stayed on for long times, but free ones for the rest was great.  There are even 3-way CFLs now.

He mentioned something else that really surprised me.  It is recommended by the EPA that 30% of the house air be replaced each hour, so even if they could seal the place up completely, it isn't healthy.  But 30% per hour?  WOW!  I would have guessed "per day".  Well, I guess that's why the house doesn't smell of cooked food and cat litter boxes all the time...

I plan to take the work proposal (to be received next week) to another highly rated company and ask for a similar quote.

One nice note...  Before the guy sealed the front door for the air pressure test, he pointed out that he could see light around the door (meaning leakage).  Well, I did know that myself and had put some weatherstrip along the outside of the door.  It was an odd kind that went on the frame outside the door, and I don't think it works very well.  I need the kind that goes between the door and the frame.

But the neat thing was that, when he assembled his door sealer for the air pressure test, he said that it should measure all the house leakage.  And I said "Well except for around that door".  He turned and looked at me, smiled, and said that I was the first homeowner he had met that had "caught" that. 

Well, I can't wait to see the work quote...


Megan said...

Interesting Mark. It seems to be on the level, so a worthwhile investment I imagine, although not as 'glamorous' as a new deck

Sydney, Australia

Katie Isabella said...

OH, I will cover my eyes so as not to see the large investment this will be,

Tommy Hopkins said...

The good thing about this energy inspection was that you were able to find out which areas and electronic devices that needed some repairs. It may seem overwhelming, especially since most of the things that need repairing are the devices that are very important for everyday comfort, like your heating unit, water heater, and so on. Hopefully, once the replacement has been installed and your attic is no longer leaking, everything will go back to normal quickly. And you can once again live in your house without worrying about everything falling apart around you.

Tommy Hopkins @ AccuTemp