Elizabeth and I have been having fun these past several weeks doing Home Energy Audits. Looking over the reports, I am still amazed at some of the things we have found. There was always something unexpected at every Audit. The first step of an Energy Audit is to ensure that it is safe to test the house. One of the safety items that I have to check for, if you have either natural gas or propane at your house, is gas leaks. Gas leaks not only can be very hazardous they also waste energy and can cause health problems for some people. For this testing procedure I purchased a combustion gas detector that I can run along the gas pipes and at the appliances to determine if any gas is leaking anywhere inside or outside the house.
I have checked under the houses (that’s how I got that nasty spider bite!), in the attics, in the fireplaces and, of course, in the kitchens. Of the houses that I have done Audits on that have gas, a large number of them I have discovered significant gas leaks inside the house that the homeowners had no idea they were there. Leaking gas does cost you a ton of money just like a leaky faucet can waste water. Constant slow leakage will add up to a significant amount. I spoke with a professional in the gas industry just last week who told me that any gas leak, no matter how big or small, is a bad gas leak and needs to be fixed immediately. This is my opinion as well, and the homeowner’s were sure glad we were there checking things out when we did.
Another big issue we have been running into over and over again is excessive moisture in the crawl space areas. Why do we care about moisture under the house? Well, several reasons, this moisture travels up into the house making our houses feel less comfortable causing us to turn the thermostat down in the summer. You do not have to live in this area to long to realize how uncomfortable a humid day feels. Although not as dangerous as gas leaks, moisture causes many other problems as well including wet insulation which affects its performance and makes your house more hospitable for mold growth. There are several ways to fix the problem, I enjoyed helping the homeowners find the most economical and effective ways to solve each of their moisture issues. Each house is a little different, so were my recommendations.
Of course, the single largest issue was infiltration of air into the living space. Every house I have done had some degree of unconditioned air infiltrating from the attic areas into the house. Some had very small leaks that could be handled by caulking. More commonly it was the attic access door itself that was the problem. Sometimes the leaks were a little harder to find with the naked eye, but with the help of my blower door the thermal imager and manometer we were able to track them down. In one house I pinpointed a large leak to a small bathroom that was adjacent to an attic storage area. The air was actually blowing in through every penetration in the wall including the pipes and the towel bars.
In yet another house I tracked down the leak to the master bathroom. With the blower door running the leak was accentuated to the point that it was unmistakable were the leak was coming from. There was a gap all the way around the skylight allowing hot un-filtered attic air directly into the bathroom. The leak was hidden from view, but with the blower door hooked up, you could hear and feel the air rushing in.
I also found some water leaks that the homeowners didn’t know about and a dryer vent that had become disconnected and was dumping warm moist air right beside the HVAC unit which had a hole in it and was sucking it right into the system. All in all, it has been a very exciting month. All this sounds scary, nobody wants to lose money on their energy bill just because they have stuff going on in their house that they can’t always see. Never fear! That’s what I’m here for. Give me a call, and I will be at your place in a jiffy to help you ferret out all those places in your house that are costing you money! All I need is about 3 hours of your time and you will be amazed at what I can find!