This house suffered from inadequate ventilation in some rooms, which was so noticeable during the winter months that the air conditioner was often used to reduce humidity and the sense of "stuffiness." A whole-house heat-recovery ventilation system was added, with a priority on ventilating these stuffy rooms, to very good effect.
The ceiling is the most important place to have insulation, because warm air "rises" to the top of the building (actually it is pushed upward when cold air sinks), and so there is more potential for heat loss at the top of the building. We recommend having at least R-30 insulation in the attic, preferably as high as R-50.
Houses are usually built with fiberglass batts of insulation in the attic, because batts are easier to handle when the house is under construction. However, batts are very difficult to work with once the house is completed, and they often develop gaps and compressed spots that cannot be fixed. We therefore recommend adding blown, "loose-fill" insulation on top of the existing insulation. Cellulose insulation (made from recycled newspapers treated with fire-retardant chemicals) is an affordable, safe, and environmentally friendly alternative to fiberglass.
A few of the insulation contractors in southeast Kansas:
- A Heating & Air Company, Chanute/Iola, 620-364-6028 pookie66783 [at] yahoo [dot] com
- All Things Exterior, Beloit, 785-738-2434 troy [at] directwholesaleinc [dot] com
- Brown Enviro-Control, Beloit, 785-243-3704 brbrown [at] nckcn [dot] com
- Coaltrain Insulation, Wamego, 785-456-4301 coaltrain [at] wamego [dot] net
- Faith Construction Services, Topeka, 785-266-3030 Brent [at] Faithroofingcompany [dot] com
- JWK Construction, Topeka, 785-331-5349 jwkconstruction [at] cox [dot] net
- Lighthouse Contracting, Topeka, 785-783-7884 lighthouse [dot] contracting [at] ymail [dot] com
- Miller & Heiman Construction, Seneca/Sebetha, 785-336-3793 CDDMILLER [at] yahoo [dot] com
- Nance Construction, Galesburg, 620-421-2571 bnance1945 [at] yahoo [dot] com
- Revolution Building Services, Topeka, 785-380-1162 R [dot] buildingservices [at] gmail [dot] com
- Superior Builders, Iola/Chanute, 620-365-6684 superiorbuilders93 [at] yahoo [dot] com
- Sutterby Insulation, Iola/Chanute, 620-363-2361 sssutterby [at] yahoo [dot] com
This house was very recently renovated but nonetheless leaked 50% more air than necessary. Most of the air leakage was from the whole-house fan. There was also a very leaky return air duct that passed through an uninsulated crawl space on its way to the heat pump.
We recommended a heat pump water heater to replace both the older gas water heater and the dehumidifier in the equipment room.
This house was in relatively poor condition compared to what we usually see. There were numerous significant problems, ranging from fire hazards (cumbustible insulation in the electrical boxes -- see photo) to mold hazards (rotting floor boards in the mechanical closet -- see photo), to toxic gas (water heater producing more than 63x the safe amount of carbon monoxide), to biological hazards (squirrels living in the attic).
This house was built very airtight -- we had to recommend adding at least 85 cubic feet per minute of heat-recovery ventilation. Humidity had become an issue in the basement, as evidenced by a dehumidifier unable to keep up. We recommended they consider a heat-pump water heater.
This small, two-bedroom house was very well built -- except for the parts that weren't. The windows in the lofted bedrooms were particularly leaky. The water heater and furnace were all the way at one end of the house, on an exterior wall. The plumbing and ducts ran through the unheated, vented crawl space. In the course of our inspection we also found the dryer vent entirely clogged with lint.
The owners of this house had only recently moved in, after renting it to others. The tenants had used the thermostat very frugally so that the heating bills were unusually low and the computer model could not be made to match accurately.
We found a gas leak at the end of an old disconnected pipe where an appliance had been. We recommended removing and recycling the pipe, capping off the junction.
This house had extremely high baseline electricity consumption. Our main recommendation to the homeowners was that they reconsider whether they need to run two full-size freezers, three refrigerators, and a hot tub year-round.
This manufactured house had two wall furnaces, one of which had been replaced just months before we arrived. Since these wall furnaces are natural draft appliances (using the air from the room to draw exhaust up the flue pipe), whenever they are not in use their flue pipes leak air from the outdoors. We recommended replacing the older of the two furnaces and one of the window air conditioners with a mini-split heat pump so that the flue pipe could be permanently sealed.
We recommended a tankless water heater since the house had only one bathroom and one resident.
We were asked to evaluate the public housing in Strong City for their 5-year report to HUD. They elected to have us audit only one unit (a row house) rather than all of the units. The unit we inspected was in excellent condition.
We found high carbon monoxide levels when the water heater started up and advised the landlords to install CO detectors in all units for the safety of the tenants.
This rural 2-story house was owned by a single mother of two teenagers. She qualified for the Weatherization Assistance Program, so they had come and blown insulation into the attic and replaced the windows, without first sealing air leaks or addressing other major problems with the house. I was very disappointed by the quality of work done by the WAP contractors.