'House as a System' Course

Research & Writing Assignment:

More and more our buyers are concerned with energy efficiency as they should be. I am baffled when I dont see a water heater with an insulating blanket installed or new LED light bulbs in a home. I think that they are two of the simplest and eaiest things that any homeowner can do.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

This home has a natural gas furnace, as well as natural gas hot water. Gas appliances are used for cooking, and a functional exhaust fan is properly installed in the hood above the range. This exhaust fan is ducted to the exterior, as required. This home lacks CO detectors, they should be installed.

Research & Writing Assignment:

I read the article “Backdrafting.” This was really informative. It seems that water heaters are the most likely combustion appliance to cause a backdrafting situation. There were several useful tips for spotting backdrafting, including simply holding a lighter near the draft diverter to insure that there is sufficient draft to draw the flame toward the flue. I will be adding a lighter to my kit.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

It is important to eliminate conditioned air from escaping insulated conditioned space into an unconditioned space such as the attic. The picture attached shows an attic access panel made of a thin piece of plywood, however it is not insulated above it (on the attic unconditioned space side). This will lead to heat/cooling loss, higher energy bills, possible damage to attic space, roof due to condensation/moisture etc. It is important the inspector notes this and the homeowner properly insulates this area.

Research & Writing Assignment:

House numbering article : Even though it seems pretty basic and not high on the priority list it is important to have ones address clearly displayed on the front of the house facing the street. Most jurisdictions have a minimum size requirement for the numbers up to six inches. It is important that these numbers are easily read and contrasting in color of the house and not obstructed by trees, bushes, or other obstructions. The most obvious reason for needing these numbers readable is for Fire/EMS and Police in the event of an emergency. Other reasons which may be of less importance are for repair companies and delivery services, etc.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

A point was made that a language barrier is an excuse. There are two sayings that come to mind," Keep it simple stupid" and “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Having a diagram or picture to show what is expected is essential.
The sealing the penetrations in attics is over looked in most of the older homes and people just don’t know how much energy they are wasting. Current standards they are required to be fire caulked.

Research & Writing Assignment:

The article on “Air sealing at kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans” has simple diagrams that the customer can understand. I have added this to my binder that I keep in my truck with extra copies to hand out. Its easy and simple with very little cost to the customer.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

Plumbing openings were observed in the basement that were not sealed and insulated properly. This condition allows warm moist air to enter the walls between shower and bath areas. This can lead to moisture damage, the possibility of mold, and poor indoor air quality

Research & Writing Assignment:

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a poisonous, odorless gas that forms from the incomplete burning of combustion fuels. Sources include, gas forced air furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces, etc. Based on the percentage of CO in the air effects can range from slight headaches and nausea, to immediate death. Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed on every floor of the home including the basement. A CO detector should be installed with ten feet of each bedroom door and sleeping areas, near (though not directly above) any combustion appliances, and in the garage.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

The above photo is of a door that is too small. The gap at the bottom could be the source of the rodent issue the building is having. The gap is also letting out heat from the Reznor heater making the building harder and more expensive to heat. It appears that this door leads to outside. A properly fitting door would also make the building more secure and reduce the energy bill.

Research & Writing Assignment:

The article I chose was Commercial Office Checklists. This is a fantastic article about moving a home office into a commercial setting. The sections on security and dcor were very helpful and not something I would think about. I want my office to reflect my tastes, but also be welcoming to new and existing clients.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

Many of today’s appliances are more efficient and have less draft. Combine with different building methods and materials, toady’s homes are much tighter. This can affect each related component much more than in older, less efficient homes. Controlling the building envelope and proper ventilation are key.

Research & Writing Assignment:

I read the article Enhancing Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings. It was interesting to read alder homes may have been constructed for more efficiency simply from the fact that they depended solely on the structure to keep the occupant comfortable, not electric heat and appliances. Certain methods need to be implemented wi
hen renovating and further insulating and sealing older structures.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

In the photo is an example of an energy bypass in this home. The dirt on the attic insulation surrounding the return air duct is indication that the duct is not properly sealed between the attic, and the climate controlled living space. This will allow un-conditioned attic air in to the HVAC system, increase energy consumption, and could lead to condensation on the building materials.

Research & Writing Assignment:

https://www.nachi.org/gallery/?level=picture&id=2076

While having a “tighter” home will undoubtedly lower our energy costs, it also puts a premium on being able to control the moisture inside and out. It is important to first control the water interacting with the exterior of the home through proper grading, gutters, etc. On the home itself, it is very important that the proper types of materials are used and installed properly, based on the climate the building is in. The increased energy efficiency of the tighter home is a benefit, but can cause big problems once unwanted moisture finds its way in.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

In the picture here you can see a chimney flu with insulation around it. The insulation should have at least a 2in barrier from touching the chimney flu. This is a fire hazard and should be recommend for repair for safety issues.

Research & Writing Assignment:

I studied the picture with a snow covered roof. There is a spot in the roof where all the snow is melted. Right away this shows that the part of the room with no snow properly is not installed very much or even at all.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

From a building science perspective, a house is considered a multi-component system, where all of the components are interactive. The building envelope, for example, comprises the roof, walls, and foundation. These components essentially separate the inside of the house from the outside. Mechanical systems are also important components. These comprise heating/cooling equipment; ventilation/exhaust systems; even humidifiers/dehumidifiers

Research & Writing Assignment:

Anti-scald valves are used to regulate water temperature in buildings
Anti-Scald Valves; Facts and Figures: Scalds account for 20% of all burns.
More than 2,000 American children are scalded each year, mostly in the bathroom and kitchen.
Scalding and other types of burns require costly and expensive hospital stays, often involving skin grafts and plastic surgery. Scalding may lead to additional injuries, such as falls and heart attacks, especially among the elderly. Water that is 160 F can cause scalding in 0.5 seconds.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

The attached photo shows signs of moisture intrusion from a part of a home system above the ceiling interior. Staining on the interior of the ceiling material indicates there has been a past or is a current leak. This is a surface clue that something is a deficiency in the house system and leads an inspector to search for a possible cause beyond the surface. In this case the attic is the next component of the house (as a system) that can be inspected in attempting diagnosis of the failure.