Q&A Spotlight

What’s More Important, Air-Sealing or Insulation?

Posted on August 25, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Green Building Advisor reader Ani Brown is getting ready to build a new house, and like most people in her position Brown will have to make some important choices on how to make the most of a limited construction budget.

Her immediate concern is insulation and air-sealing, two related details that will have a lot to do with how comfortable and durable the new house will be.

Why Is My House So Hot?

Posted on August 11, 2014 by Scott Gibson

When Jeff Watson realized that the insulation on his attic floor was rated at R-11, he did what any energy professional would have suggested: he added more insulation. He air sealed the attic floor, added ventilation baffles where necessary, and blew in a thick layer of R-60 insulation. But he isn't entirely satisfied at the results.

"As expected, the temperature in the house doesn't fluctuate as much," Watson writes in a Q&A post at GreenBuildingAdvisor. "However, I feel as if I'm using AC more.

Heat Losses Are Way More than Planned

Posted on July 28, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Bob Holodinsky was hoping for a better outcome from the heat loss calculations he received for his new Peterborough, Ontario, home — calculations that appear to have upset his plans for heating with a ductless minisplit. "I thought I was on the right track," he writes in a Q&A post at GreenBuildingAdvisor, "but now I am not so sure."

When the Problem Is Heat

Posted on July 14, 2014 by Scott Gibson

If you have problems dealing with the heat, you probably wouldn't like the desert Southwest, especially when conventional air conditioning is simply too expensive to use on a regular basis.

That seems to be the case for a GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com reader who's trying to learn more about building in a climate where the challenge of staying cool far outweighs the minor and occasional inconvenience of staying warm.

Looking for the Best Minisplit Option

Posted on June 30, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Ductless minisplit heat pumps have gotten many favorable reviews at Green Building Advisor, but Roy Goodwin sums up a concern that's popped up more than once: Despite their virtuoso heating and cooling performance, they're a little on the homely side.

On Trying To Do the Right Thing

Posted on June 16, 2014 by Scott Gibson

This week's Q&A Spotlight is more about the business of building, and less about the science of building. The case involves a homeowner who is struggling to find a balance between his ethical responsibilities and a desire to save a few bucks.

The Best Way to Insulate a Floor

Posted on June 2, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Jim Wright's house in western Arkansas has a post-and-pier foundation that elevates floor framing about 40 inches off the ground. Unlike a house with a basement, crawl space, or slab foundation, there is no enclosure at the bottom of the house, so the floor is more or less like another exterior wall.

How, Wright wonders, should this be insulated?

Updating an Antique Heating System

Posted on May 19, 2014 by Scott Gibson

The multistory brick home in Frederick, Maryland, is an "amazing property that deserves to be lived in and preserved," says a Green Building Advisor reader who calls himself Joe Schmo. Its Achilles heel is a heating and cooling system that costs thousands of dollars a year to operate.

The system consists of an oil-fired boiler that supplies radiators with steam, two air-source heat pumps that provide air conditioning, and back-up electric resistance heat. There's a 4-ton unit in the basement for the first floor, and a 3-ton unit in an attic that serves the second floor.

Do I Really Need a Concrete Basement Floor?

Posted on May 5, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Rob Rosen is diving into a basement remodel, a job that involves digging out and removing a concrete slab to provide more headroom so the basement can be turned into usable living space.

He'll reinforce the footing and foundation as needed, but when it comes time to build a new floor for the basement, Rosen wonders whether he can go with something other than a concrete slab.

Building a Foolproof Low-Slope Roof

Posted on April 21, 2014 by Scott Gibson

Carolyn Wood is building a house 80 miles north of Vancouver, British Columbia, and if nothing else she'd like to get all the details in the roof assembly right. The question is whether the house is too far along to let her reach that goal.

The roof, with a 2-in-12 pitch, is framed with I-joists, strapped with 2x4s, and sheathed with 1/2-in. plywood. Above the roof sheathingMaterial, usually plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), but sometimes wooden boards, installed on the exterior of wall studs, rafters, or roof trusses; siding or roofing installed on the sheathing—sometimes over strapping to create a rainscreen. , the roofers plan to install NovaSeal roofing underlayment and standing-seam metal roofing.

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