Q&A Spotlight

How to Insulate a Wood Foundation

Posted on December 11, 2017 by Scott Gibson

Jeepasaurus, a GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com reader from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, recently bought a log house sitting atop a permanent wood foundation (PWF). Although initially reluctant to buy the house because of this detail, Jeep did enough research to convince him there's nothing inherently wrong with a wood foundation. The problem is how to insulate it.

There’s Mold in My Attic

Posted on November 27, 2017 by Scott Gibson

A three-season cabin built in the 1940s became a year-round dwelling two years ago, but owner Marty Pfeif has discovered an alarming problem: a bumper crop of mold in the attic.

In a post at the Q&A forum, Pfeif ticks off the particulars, including no apparent attempts at air-sealing, "shake and rake" R-19 insulation on the attic floor and some batting against the walls, no vapor barrier, and a ridge vent but no gable vents.

Planning a Retrofit in the Pacific Northwest

Posted on November 13, 2017 by Scott Gibson

Brad Steeg's Seattle home was built in 1915, and from the description he provides in this post at GBA's Q&A forum, it's not hard to understand why Steeg is so uncomfortable during the winter: not much insulation, single-pane windows, and lots of air leaks.

"During the winter, my thermostat reads 70° but it still feel cold because the cold walls and ceiling suck the heat out of my body," Steeg writes.

Lead Paint and Old Clapboards

Posted on October 30, 2017 by Scott Gibson

Gregg Zuman's house in Beacon, New York, was built near the start of the Civil War, and like most any building of that era it's in need of a few repairs. At the moment, Zuman is stuck on what to do about the clapboard siding.

Can Bathroom Fans Be Used to Distribute Heat?

Posted on October 16, 2017 by Scott Gibson

Debra's new house in southwestern Virginia will be a one-story design of 1,344 square feet with half the space devoted to a single, open room and the remaining area divided into two bedrooms, two baths, and a utility room. The main source of heat will be in the open room, and in the absence of a conventional forced air heating system, Debra's quandary is how to distribute the heat evenly.

Gas vs. Electric for Heating, Cooking, and Hot Water

Posted on October 2, 2017 by Scott Gibson

Lydia Segal is planning a 2,000-square foot house in Colorado (Climate Zone 6B), and aiming for "Pretty Good House" performance. Among the many questions she's trying to answer is whether electricity or natural gas is the best choice for heating, domestic hot water, and cooking.

She's lucky enough to have both a reliable electricity grid and easy access to natural gas in the small community where she lives. So the practicalities of delivery are not really a concern.

How to Vent a Rainscreen

Posted on September 18, 2017 by Scott Gibson

A vented rainscreenConstruction detail appropriate for all but the driest climates to prevent moisture entry and to extend the life of siding and sheathing materials; most commonly produced by installing thin strapping to hold the siding away from the sheathing by a quarter-inch to three-quarters of an inch. — an air gap behind the siding — has become a standard detail in many new houses. It helps remove moisture that works its way through the siding, and in the process helps siding last longer. It's the "vented" part of this equation that has Gerald Pehl thinking.

"I've got an assembly design for a vented rainscreen, and it will be held continuous to the soffit spaces, which then vent through to the attic ridge vent via conventional vent chutes between the rafters," Pehl says in a comment posted in the Q&A forum at GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com.

Fixing a Poorly Insulated Roof

Posted on September 4, 2017 by Scott Gibson

Chris Butson's Utah home sits at an elevation of 6,000 feet and experiences everything from sub-zero temperatures in the winter to 100-degree summer days. Built in 1994, the house has what Butson believes is an underinsulated roof that contributes to big electric bills and massive ice dams.

Insulating a New House

Posted on August 21, 2017 by Scott Gibson

An owner-builder planning a new home in southern Ontario isn't looking for a net-zero house, just one that's well insulated and protected from moisture problems. The question is whether his proposed wall system is his best option.

"I'm unwilling to put foam board on the outside and vapor barrier on the inside," writes User 6782048, whom we'll just call Ontario, in a question posted on our Q&A page. "Just seems wrong."

There’s Rot in the Roof

Posted on August 7, 2017 by Scott Gibson

Chuck Kramer's home in Enumclaw, Washington, was built in the 1980s with unvented cathedral ceilings, insulated with cut-and-cobble rigid foam insulation and roofed with cedar shakes. A small section of the roof is showing signs of water damage, and now Kramer is trying to find a way of repairing the problem area without tearing into the rest of the roof.

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