Q&A Spotlight

How Can I Make Old Windows More Energy Efficient?

Posted on May 15, 2010 by Daniel Morrison

Q I want to increase the R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. of the single-pane windows in my 44-year-old house in New Hampshire. I am considering using movable window insulation. Is this insulation good for limiting excess heat gainIncrease in the amount of heat in a space, including heat transferred from outside (in the form of solar radiation) and heat generated within by people, lights, mechanical systems, and other sources. See heat loss. in summer? The windows also fogTo fog a room or building is to use a fog machine during a blower door test, revealing locations of air leaks where the fog escapes. The fogging material is usually a glycol-based solution, completely non-toxic. up easily. Will inner storm windows prevent the fogging and provide more R-value? Can you suggest other alternatives?
-Patrick Clary, Dover, N. H.

How Did Water Damage this Brick Basement?

Posted on March 30, 2010 by Rob Wotzak

In a recent discussion from our Q&A forum, Chris Ermides tries to determine what caused severe deterioration of a brick column in the basement of his Victorian home. Chris knows that his basement could use some moisture remediation, but he is puzzled that none of the nearby brick walls have similar signs of decay. Fortunately, the chimney that the column once supported is long gone, and the load of the adjacent beams rests comfortably on lally columns, but Chris is still determined to solve this mystery.

What’s the Most Cost-Effective Way to Bring Fresh Air into a Tight House?

Posted on February 20, 2010 by Martin Holladay

Our Question of the Week focuses on a query from “DC,” a Texas reader who wants to know which residential ventilation system will provide the “most bang for the buck.”

DC knows that a tight home requires a mechanical ventilation system to provide fresh air. But how does one choose among the bewildering array of options? And are there any performance advantages to expensive ventilation systems?

Does Spray Foam Insulation Off-Gas Poisonous Fumes?

Posted on February 17, 2010 by Daniel Morrison

Spray-foam insulation has become a weapon of choice for many builders and homeowners trying to build tight, energy efficient houses. And with its long list of attributes, that's no wonder. It fills tiny cracks and fissures in walls and roofs to form an effective air seal. The high R-values of closed-cell foam pack a lot of punch in a small space, and closed-cell versions can block the movement of moisture into wall and roof cavities. Expensive as it may be, it's at the top of its class.

Will Solar Panel Mounts Cause Roof Leaks?

Posted on February 4, 2010 by Daniel Morrison

Our latest Question of the Week comes from a homeowner in New Jersey. Monica is uncertain of the best way to insulate the roof of a new second-story addition on her Cape Cod home. She wonders whether it's wise to insulate directly under 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. — especially since the mounting system for her 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. array requires 54 holes to be drilled in her asphalt shingle roof.

Can a Kitchen Downdraft Fan Be Connected To an HRV?

Posted on January 21, 2010 by Daniel Morrison

Powerful kitchen exhaust fans do a good job of removing cooking odors and smoke. They also have the potential to depressurize a house, causing water heaters to backdraft and pulling ashes out of the fireplace and onto the hearth.

Can Spray Foam Rot Your Roof?

Posted on January 14, 2010 by Daniel Morrison

Ice dams are a familiar problem in New England and other parts of the country where winters are long and cold. Snow on under-insulated and under-ventilated roofs melts, pools and refreezes to form a dam. Water backs up under the shingles and much to the horror of homeowners often finds its way inside the building.

Spray foam polyurethane insulation is supposed to be a hedge against that problem. By forming an effective seal around rafters, and offering respectable R-values, foam should be blocking the migration of cold air into the roof where it can condense into water.

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