Q&A Spotlight

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.

Choosing the Cheapest Path to Net Zero

Posted on July 24, 2017 by Scott Gibson

Writing from northeast Ohio, a reader with the screen name “User-6877304” — let's call him Steve — is seeking comments on his plans to build an affordable net-zero energyProducing as much energy on an annual basis as one consumes on site, usually with renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics or small-scale wind turbines. home. The house, to be built on a 30-foot by 50-foot slab-on-grade foundation, seems to have many characteristics of a "Pretty Good House" — that is, it's well insulated and ventilated but not attempting to hit the Passive HouseA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. metric.

Steve plans to install R-10 rigid insulation beneath the slab. The house will have double-stud walls insulated with cellulose to R-40 and a raised-heel truss roof insulated to R-60.

Installing Lap Siding Over Foam

Posted on July 10, 2017 by Scott Gibson

William Costello is building a new house in southwest Virginia that will be framed with 2x6s and will include up to 2 inches of exterior rigid foam insulation. He plans on installing 3/4-inch thick plywood furring strips on top of the exterior foam, and then will side the house with LP SmartSide lap siding designed specifically for houses with 24-inch on-center framing.

It all sounded straightforward enough until Costello took a close look at the installation instructions from LP Building Products.

Keeping Cool in Detroit

Posted on June 26, 2017 by Scott Gibson

Like many houses built in the 1960s, Nathan Efrusy's 2,000-square-foot colonial in Detroit has baseboard heat but no central air. A single wall-mounted air conditioner keeps the first floor of the house comfortable, but Efrusy would like to extend AC to the second floor — the question is now to do that effectively.

In a Q&A post, Efrusy says he's been given several options for cooling on the second floor, but he's leaning towards a ductless minisplit.

Dealing With Ductwork in an Unconditioned Attic

Posted on June 12, 2017 by Scott Gibson

Ted has more than a few cobwebs in his attic. The unconditioned space also houses his HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. system.

The 1,800-square-foot brick ranch in Climate Zone 4 dates from the 1960s, but the previous owner installed both a furnace and ductwork in the attic just four years ago. Ted also has inherited a powered attic ventilator. Although both the attic floor and the ductwork are insulated, Ted recognizes the situation isn't ideal.

Making the Case for Exterior Foam Insulation

Posted on May 29, 2017 by Scott Gibson

Writing from Climate Zone 3, Farm House seems to have worked out many of the details for the dream house he plans to start building in a few months.

"Plan to live in it for 30+ years," he writes in a post at the Q&A forum at Green Building Advisor. "The house will have Zip System 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. and will be well insulated on the inside. I will just leave it at that. Not interested in installing rigid foam on the outside of the roof sheathing. (I have my reasons, so please don't try to convince me otherwise.)

All-Electric vs. Natural Gas

Posted on May 15, 2017 by Scott Gibson

Given a photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. system with a capacity of as much as 8 kilowatts, does it make any sense to include natural gas appliances in a new house, or would an all-electric design be more practical?

That's the question Markus ponders as he plans a new house in Houston, Texas. Although he has natural gas service in the house where he currently lives, the size of his new rooftop solar system could prompt a change of heart.

Tackling an Energy Remodel in New Hampshire

Posted on May 1, 2017 by Scott Gibson

From the sound of it, Ben Balcombe is about to buy a house built like many others in New England in the 1980s: 2x6 walls (presumably insulated with fiberglass batt insulationInsulation, usually of fiberglass or mineral wool and often faced with paper, typically installed between studs in walls and between joists in ceiling cavities. Correct installation is crucial to performance. ), double-pane windows, baseboard hydronic heat linked to an oil-fired boiler, and vinylCommon term for polyvinyl chloride (PVC). In chemistry, vinyl refers to a carbon-and-hydrogen group (H2C=CH–) that attaches to another functional group, such as chlorine (vinyl chloride) or acetate (vinyl acetate). siding. The house is in southern New Hampshire in Climate Zone 5.

Balcombe plans to renovate the house in phases. He'd launch a kitchen and bath remodel "as soon as we get the keys," with other upgrades to follow.

Roof Assembly for a Getaway Cottage

Posted on April 17, 2017 by Scott Gibson

Plans are taking shape for Quinn Sievewright's holdiay home: a small retreat with a shed roof that will be built in Climate Zone 4 near Vancouver, Canada. During the winter, the building won't be occupied full-time, but enough so that Sievewright has included several layers or rigid foam insulation in the design for his low-pitch roof. (The drawing at right shows how he's proposed to build it.)

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