1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

September 5, 2008

:249 Remodeling Air Flow Control

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:2489 EcoTip: Controlling air flow by creating a negative air pressure in the remodeling zone can help prevent dust from traveling to other clean parts of the home – especially when used in combination with a dust curtain in doorways and other openings (:248).

Caution when you create a negative pressure you may cause back drafting of combustion appliances – so read tips :113 and :114 to learn how to safeguard against accidentally causing this very dangerous situation when following this 1:5:10:365 Ecotip.


 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :039, :040, :113, :114, :248

A simple way to create a negative pressure in the remodeling area is to seal a box fan into a window so that it will blow outside. Use quick release tape and polyethylene plastic (if necessary) to seal the fan to the window so the air flow must go through the fan and not around it. Allow a cross ventilation to bring fresh air into the work area from the opposite side of the room. This make up air should be enough to allow good ventilation but not so much that the negative pressure is lost. You can check negative air flow and pressure visually by using the techniques discussed in :039 and :040. In this case you want an air flow from the outside of the building into the work area. A puff of test smoke placed at the dust curtain should not travel into the clean parts of the home, but should be pulled into the remodeling area. As noted above in the caution – you don’t want the negative pressure in the construction area to create a back drafting of you hot water heater, fire place, furnace or other combustion appliances.

This is serious stuff. If you don’t understand how to use air flow controls with a dust curtain safely – don’t do it because it could cause a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning if done improperly.

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May 6, 2008

:127 Fresh Air

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:127 EcoTip: A fresh air supply is important to help prevent back-drafting (:113). Rather than leaving a vent open to the outside continually, the Cape Damper can be installed through a wall to allow air to flow in only one direction when needed but to also prevent back-drafting should a dangerous negative pressure develop.

Credit: http://www.tamtech.com/cape_damper.htm


 Additional Information

The Cape Damper can be mounted through the wall to allow fresh air to enter, or as an exhaust damper for exhaust fans or a clothes drier. Since it doesn’t have spring loaded flaps, it won’t clog with lint, but can prevent clothes dryer back-drafting.

If it is being used for allowing fresh air to enter, it will need a screen added to help prevent insect and rodent entry.

specifications: cdf.07.pdf

April 28, 2008

:119 Fire Screens

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:119 EcoTip: The fire screen on your fire place chimney does more that arresting sparks going up the chimney as well as keeping out pests. Many homes that catch on fire and burn in wild fires would have been okay if they had an intact fire screen. When wild fires burn they can create a back pressure that sucks hot air and sparks down the chimney into the home – igniting it from the inside. A properly installed chimney fire screen or spark arrester can help prevent this from happening.


 Additional Information

 The information in this post is from my new book Extreme Weather Hits Home: Protecting your Buildings from Climate Change

• Use quarter-inch fire screen over the opening of every chimney or wood stove pipe. The hot air from a fire can cause the typical air flow to reverse so outside air rushes down the chimney and ignites the interior of the home. Fire screening not only helps prevent sparks from your fireplace from causing a wildfire, but also helps prevent wild fire embers from back drafting into your home.

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April 23, 2008

:114 Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Filed under: :114 Carbon Monoxide Detectors — Tags: , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:29 am

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:114 EcoTip: Carbon Monoxide Detectors may look like a smoke detector, but they can help alert you to another deadly hazard that is a colorless odorless gas. Most people think of Carbon Monoxide poisoning as being a winter hazard, but can be a problem any time of year if combustion appliances are in use. If you don’t already have one – its a small investment. If you have one – test it to be sure the batteries are in good shape and it is working.


 Additional Information

Suggested Review – :112, :113

Here’s what EPA says: Consider installing a Carbon Monoxide alarm.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas which at high levels can cause serious illness and death. CO alarms are widely available and should be considered a back-up to BUT NOT A REPLACEMENT for proper installation, use, and maintenance of fuel-burning appliances. CO alarms are designed to warn you of any unusual build-up of CO in your home. These higher levels of CO may occur from improperly maintained, installed or used fuel-burning appliances, backdrafting appliances or fireplaces, or idling cars in garages. If a CO alarm is to be installed:

  1. Make sure the device is certified to the most current Underwriters Laboratory (UL) standard 2034 or the International Approval Services (IAS) 6-96 standard.
  2. Install a CO alarm in the hallway near every separate sleeping area.

 Be aware of all instructions and warnings associated with the CO alarm.

You can read more EPA information on Carbon Monoxide and detecors at http://www.epa.gov/iaq/co.html

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April 22, 2008

:113 Prevent Back-Drafting

Filed under: :113 Prevent Back-Drafting — Tags: , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:28 am

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:113 EcoTip: Back-drafting is a serious condition that can lead to fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. It occurs when the gases for any combustion appliance or a fireplace flow into the house instead of up the chimney. It can be caused by some very simple mistakes especially in today’s very tight energy efficient structures.



 Additional Information

Suggested Review – :111, :112

 There are many forces that can work together to depressurize a home according to EPA these include: bathroom exhaust fans, kitchen range hoods, and clothes dryers and fireplaces. Other problems are “leaky return ducts near combustion equipment, leaky supply ducts outside the conditioned space, wind, and the stack effect (warm air rising in a building tends to depressurize lower areas). If these forces are great enough, they can work to suck air and combustion products back down the chimney or flue and into the house.”

Yesterday I talked about the importance of having doors properly undercut or a Return Air Pathway. Back-drafting is one important reason why!

Let’s say you have a balanced central heating system that has a single return air supply in a hallway and supply registers in each room. Furthermore you’ve just installed a carpet that fills the undercut under the door and substantially reduces the amount of air that can flow under the doorway. As long as the door is open, no problem, but when the door gets closed the air blowing into the bedroom can’t get back to the return. The bedroom becomes postively pressurized, but the rest of the home becomes negatively presurized. There isn’t enough air to satisfy the needs of the furnace system so air starts to flow from cracks and other available openings. In a leaky home, there is probably enough unintended air to satisfy the needs of the system, but when there isn’t enough air, the air has to come from somewhere like by back-drafting down the flue pipe for hot water heater or the furnace. If the furnace or hot water heater is in the house and doesn’t have an unblocked fresh air supply, the combustion gases can flow out into the living space. If the combustion gases have already been burned – the risk is carbon monoxide poisoning. If the gases haven’t been burned, they may ignite and cause a fire. this is just one of several dangerous back-drafting situations. EPA discusses more at: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/homes/hip-backdrafting.html 

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