1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

December 27, 2008

:362 Attic Ice

Filed under: :362 Attic Ice — Tags: , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 5:08 am

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:362 EcoTip: Winter is a good time to check for attic ice. If it is not coming from leaks or ice dams then there must be excessive moisture coming into the attic from somewhere that is freezing on the cold underside of the roof. It may be that the attic ventilation is inadequate, but is also very likely that a moisture source is releasing moisture into the attic. Double check bathroom, laundry and kitchen vents to be sure they are dumping moisture laden air outside and not into the attic. The air infiltration sealing techniques discussed elsewhere in this blog may also help (search term infiltration).

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Suggested Review:

I inspected one home that was having problems with ice forming in the attic then melting onto the ceiling and walls when the days began to warm. The problem had suddenly developed one year. It turned out that a plumber had pulled the vapor barrier off the soil in the crawlspace to work on the septic line, and had not replace the barrier. The excess moisture coming off the soil was able to infiltrate all the way up through the house into the attic and was  sufficient to cause the problem to develop. Replacing the plastic barrier on the soil solved the problem.

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December 25, 2008

:360 Condensation Control

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:360 EcoTip: Condensation on cold surfaces can be eliminated by reducing the humidity. Reducing the humidity lowers the dew point temperature. By lowering the dew point temperature below the temperature of the coldest surface condensation can be eliminated.

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Suggested Review: :359

Humidity can be lowered by reducing the amount of moisture that is going into the air. Ventilating cooking, laundry and bathroom moisture to the outside can help. If moisture is entering the building from the outside – for example through a concrete slab or from outdoor elevated humidity, then dehumidification may be needed in the winter.

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November 13, 2008

:318 Predict Ice Dams

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:318 EcoTip: Thermal imaging can be used to predict locations on the roof where ice dams are likely to form. The thermal imaging camera is used to locate hot spots. These represent the areas where snow will melt. If the melted snow has to run down an area of roof where the water will refreeze, then the formation of an ice dam becomes more likely.

184-missing-insulation-ir11

Courtesy of MoistureView.com

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Suggested Review: :313, :317

The large blue area in the thermal image above represents a cold area with missing insulation where the attic eave vent is located. The heat from the house will escape upwards warming the underside of the roof. If snow is present the extra warmth may cause it to melt and run down the roof onto the cold overhang. If conditions are right the water will refreeze and form a dam that prevents subsequent water flowing downward from draining off the roof. This water can then migrate into the home. This thermal image can be used to predict that water from any ice dam that forms from this missing insulation is more likely to drain down into the wall cavity causing damage.

Tomorrow’s 1:5:10:365 EcoTip will show how this eave area could be insulated and ventilated at the same time.

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November 4, 2008

:309 Radon Gas Mat

Filed under: :309 Radon Gas Mat — Tags: , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:19 am

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:309 EcoTip: A radon gas mat system is sometimes installed under a concrete slab before it is poured to help control radon gas. If you have a crawlspace the same gas mat system can be installed on top of the crawlspace soil with the gas mat underneath a polyethylene moisture barrier to keep the radon exiting the crawlspace and entering the home. Other types of gases such as water vapor and pesticide treatments also seem to be controlled well by the gas mat systems.

Source: http://www.radonpds.com 

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :050, :128, :129, :130

Instructions and materials for the installation of a radon gas mat system under a slab foundation are available at: http://www.radonpds.com/Instructions_SM/Instructions_SM.htm. Using it in a crawlspace under a soil mat follows the same basic steps except the soil mat substitutes for the concrete.

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October 16, 2008

:290 Attic Check

Filed under: :290 Attic Check — Tags: , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:25 am

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

1:5:10:290 EcoTip: With winter coming, its time to check your attic. If you can’t do this safely or know what you are looking for, it is best to have this done by a professional. If the temperature difference between inside and outside is at least 20 degrees F, then a cold weather thermal imaging of the attic will help to identify problem areas like missing insulation and air infiltration paths. As it gets cooler, it also makes sense to have your attic checked for condensation moisture on the underside of the roof sheathing which can lead to mold growth, material deterioration and a shorter roof life.

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September 22, 2008

:266 Finding Moisture Pockets

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

1:5:10:266 EcoTip: Thermal imaging using an infrared camera can help identify materials that are wet after flooding or water intrusion. Depending on the nature of the damage – many materials that look dry may in fact be wet. Capillary action and movement of water vapor can cause secondary damage that goes well beyond where the action water flowed. A thermal imaging scan can quickly help identify areas for investigation with a moisture meter. This can help identify pockets of moisture that might otherwise be missed. 

 

Thermal Image of a wet wall courtesy of Restoration Consultants at www.moistureview.com

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Suggested Review: :037, :256, :276, :258, :259, :260, :261, :262, :263, :264, :265

This is the eleventh in a series of EcoTips about working around buildings when participating in disaster recovery such as occurred with hurricane Katrina and is going on now with Ike. This information is timely since 2008 is the most active hurricane season since 2005 and many buildings are being damaged.

 

John Banta with Fluke thermal imaging camera from www.moistureview.com

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September 20, 2008

:264 Paperless Gypsum Board

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

1:5:10:264 EcoTip: DensArmor Plus is a paperless gypsum board product by US Gypsum that will hold up better to residual levels of moisture better than the gypsum board coated with paper. Its coated with fiberglass – so some care during installation needs to be taken, but when it comes to not providing nutrients for mold – this product may be a good choice. Many people think using green board will protect them from mold growth – but it won’t. I’ve seen plenty of mold growing on the surface of green board.

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Suggested Review: :256, :257, :258, :259, :260, :261, :262, :263

This is the ninth in a series of EcoTips about protecting oneself when remodeling and working around buildings when participating in disaster recovery such as occurred with hurricane Katrina and is going on now with Ike. This information is timely since 2008 is the most active hurricane season since 2005 and many buildings are being damaged.

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September 18, 2008

:262 Clean and Dry

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

1:5:10:262 EcoTip: Before reconstruction after flooding can begin – it is critical that the indoor environment be clean and dry. If its not clean there can be organic material that results in odor problems or bacteria. If its not dry mold can develop and materials may degrade. You can’t tell if many types of construction materials are dry by touch – it is important to confirm they are dry using a moisture meter.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :256, :257, :258, :259, :260, :261,

This is the seventh in a series of EcoTips about protecting oneself when remodeling and working around buildings when participating in disaster recovery such as occurred with hurricane Katrina and is going on now with Ike. This information is timely since 2008 is the most active hurricane season since 2005 and many buildings are being damaged.

The following is from my book Extreme Weather Hits Home. I am discussing the reconstruction process in Key West Florida after hurricane Wilma in 2005:

Storm surge-damaged gypsum board and insulation can’t be saved, so in most of the buildings I looked at they had been removed shortly after the water damage occurred to allow air drying of the remaining wood framing or concrete block that is commonly used for construction on the island. In those buildings where it had not been removed, the gypsum board was falling apart, full of mold growth, and smelling horribly from the bacteria and dead sea life that hadn’t yet been removed and disinfected.

In the cases where the residents quickly removed and discarded the water-damaged gypsum wallboard, they simply left the wet wood framing in the homes exposed to allow natural air circulation for drying. What I found surprising was that even after three months of air drying the wood framing materials and furring strips had a wood moisture content greater than 30 percent. It became apparent that mechanical drying using dehumidifiers and air circulation would be necessary to get these buildings dry enough for reconstruction. Experience has shown that if the wood surface is exposed to air circulation it is rare for mold to grow even if the center of the wood still has elevated levels of moisture. Fortunately, leaving the walls open and not rushing reconstruction avoids the problem of mold growing.

One of the big problems I observed while in Key West were homes where the gypsum wallboard and insulation had been removed and replaced with new materials while the wood still had these elevated levels of moisture. These homes began to grow mold on the paper of the brand-new gypsum wallboard materials.

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May 28, 2008

:149 Smelly Air

Filed under: :149 Smelly Air — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 2:55 am

1:5:10:149 Tip: Room air fresheners can cover-up or mask odors. This may be a bad idea. If your house smells bad, it may be an early warning signal of something being wrong. It is best to search-out and correct the odor problem not cover it up. This is especially true of musty odors, which may be an early indicator of a moisture, decay, rot or mold problem. 

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May 12, 2008

:133 Moisture Granules

Filed under: :133 Moisture Granules — Tags: , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:31 am

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

1:5:10:133 EcoTip: Moisture Granules are a polymer soil additive that helps conserve water by helping to hold more moisture in the soil. It is important that they be mixed into the soil well since they don’t help at the surface. This also helps insure that chlorine in the water has a chance to disapate before reaching the grannules. Chlorinated water has been reported to reduce their effectiveness.

 http://www.soilmoist.com/products/landscapers.php

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 Additional Information

According to their Manufacturer: “Soil Moist polymer granular is a soil amendment designed to reduce plant waterings by 50%, reduce transplant shock and soil compaction, and will remain effective in the soil for 3-5 years. It is an inexpensive form of insurance for the plant and is environmentally friendly. Soil Moist saves time, labor and plant loss.”

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