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.
seal air leaks
Air leaks often have the largest influence on the comfort and performance of a house -- more than insulation or windows or any other factor. Cold air leaking in in the wintertime or hot, humid air leaking in in the summer can make an otherwise well-maintained house feel uncomfortable. Fortunately, air leaks are also extremely cost-effective to fix!
A certain amount of air exchange with the outdoors is necessary for the health and safety of the people in the house. However, most houses leak far more air than this. A blower door test will tell us exactly how much air leakage we can seal without requiring additional ventilation.
Common locations of air leaks include around windows and doors, whole house fans and attic hatches, outlets and lightswitches, light fixtures (especially recessed "can" lights), cracks in the walls or ceiling, gaps around pipes and wires, and ventilation fans in bathrooms and kitchens.
A few of the air sealing 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
- Faith Construction Services, Topeka, 785-266-3030 Brent [at] Faithroofingcompany [dot] com
- Chanute/Iola Sealing/Door/Window Heartland Home Inspection & Residential Repairs Ken Wood, Jr. 1130 S. Santa Fe 620-431-1908 bjwood28 [at] gmail [dot] com
- Topeka Insul/Sealing/Roof/Door/Window JWK Construction Gerald Keller 325 SW Broadmoor 785-331-5349 jwkconstruction [at] cox [dot] net
- Topeka/state Insul/Sealing/Roof/Door/Window/HVAC Lighthouse Contracting Cyrstal Riley 531 NW Tyler Court Ste C 785-783-7884 lighthouse [dot] contracting [at] ymail [dot] com
- Seneca/Sabetha Insul/Sealing/Roof/Door/Window Miller & Heiman Construction Dick Miller 313 South 7th St. 785-336-3793 CDDMILLER [at] yahoo [dot] com
- SE/Galesburg All trades Nance Construction Bob Nance** 9350 30th Rd. 620-421-2571 bnance1945 [at] yahoo [dot] com
- Topeka/state Insul/Sealing/Roof/Door/Window Revolution Building Services Jon Fergus 2803 SW Prairie Rd #6 785-380-1162 R [dot] buildingservices [at] gmail [dot] com
Iola/Chanute Insul/Sealing/Roof/Door/Window Superior Builders Danny Ware, Jr. 416 S. Elm St. 620-365-6684 superiorbuilders93 [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 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 was quite a large house, but built recently and well so that it was performing quite well. However, they had humidity issues in the finished basement which appeared to be due to poor air circulation. We recommended balancing the ducts and installing a larger dehumidifier.
One of the main recommendations we were able to make was to remove the south-facing skylights. Skylights can be very nice, but when exposed to the full summer sun, they let in a lot of heat!
Notable air leaks included the whole house fan, recessed ("can") lights, and the basement windows.
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.