Insulation

Please read when installing

Funny thing about labels, they can tell you some useful things but there is a trick…..you need to actually read them.

There are labels for almost anything, to tell you when you should purchase something, or throw it away or even how it should be installed…..

I was in a Salem, Oregon attic the other day and I noticed some labels.  These labels were on building components and the labels had instructions or indications for how the product should be installed.  The first label I noticed was on the fiberglass batt insulation:

Clearly, right on the surface of the paper face were some instructions, “Apply this side toward living space.”   I was in the attic space and it was definitely not set up for “living.”  The reason for this label has to do with the movement of moisture vapor as it leaves the living space and enters an unheated space.  With the vapor barrier/paper face installed improperly, water vapor that is traveling up through the ceiling and through the insulation hits the big temperature difference at the paper face and condenses into liquid.  Here the liquid water is trapped and will cause bad things to happen to the home (mold, rot, deterioration, ect).  When the paper face is installed properly the vapor will not hit the dew point till it is past the vapor barrier/paper face and if the vapor condenses into liquid in the fiberglass batting, it can breath and escape and most importantly, is not trapped!

A few feet away I saw another label.  The manufactures for the gas flue for the water heater wanted to help the installers and make sure to remind them of proper installation:


Looks like this was another instance of lack of proper literacy.   The purpose for the 1″ gap requirement is fire safety.  The type B vent is designed to stay cooler than a straight walled pipe however it does heat up.  Over the years the combustible materials that are too close to the pipe will heat up over and over again.  Each time this heating occurs there are slight changes in the molecular structure and the material’s flash point, temperature that it catches fire, drops.  Eventually this may become a fire hazard.

Labels are important.  Read, read, read and if you don’t know why you should do something, call someone, like a wonderful home inspector, who does!


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Those darn drafty attics.

On a home inspection the other day I popped my head into the attic space of a vintage 1950 home. At first glance the attic felt unusually warm and moist. From the outside the gable vents appeared to be large enough and should have kept this attic effectively ventilated however the current renter had some other ideas. He told me that he had been in construction for years and was currently unemployed.

This vintage home had a minimum amount of insulation and the gable vents were covered with plastic!! All of the warm moist air coming up out of the home was being trapped in this unheated, unvented, ideal mold growing limbo. The roof sheathing was covered with a soft and fuzzy patina, very artistic but not very pleasing for home maintenance and air quality.

The moral of the story is those openings in your attic and there for a reason and very important. They are not there to make you suffer when it is time to pay the heating bill. Insulation should be used on HEATED surfaces. Your attic is not a heated space. The floor of the attic is next to a heated space and this is the only surface that should be insulated. The rest of the attic should have enough vents to keep the attic as close to the exterior temperature as possible. This will vent excess moisture, cool the roof system and provide a good environment for maintenance of the structure of the roof.

Home inspections in Salem, Oregon. Mold, Inspector, Keizer

Thermal imaging finds Missing Insulation

I just did a home inspection on a fine home here in Salem, Oregon. Overall the home was a piece of cake, and very well taken care of. There was one little section of insulation in the attic that had fallen (from the cable guy presumably). It was impossible to see visually but thanks to the magic of my fancy little thermal/infrared camera my clients now know of an area that could use some additional insulation.

Very simple fix, in fact the fallen insulation is most likely sitting up there in the attic just waiting to be reinstalled and protect the home from the hot or cold of the attic.

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