Tag Archives: insulation

PRETTY IN PINK? NOT SO MUCH

Occasionally, I come across pink foam insulation in crawl spaces. This scenario most recently occurred during a home inspection in Friday Harbor. 

Whenever I see it, I recommend that my clients cover it with a non-combustible material for safety reasons.

If you have questions or comments about home inspections in general, tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

ELEPHANT TRUNK IN THE ATTIC?  HMMMM…IT’S NOT THAT HARD TO EXTEND FAN DUCTING TO THE EXTERIOR; PLUS YOU’LL AVOID LIKELY MOLD!

If a bathroom vent fan funnels into your attic, moist air from your hot, damp bathroom can eventually (and likely) form mold and mildew on attic rafters and sheathing —and even your attic insulation.  A recent home inspection in Anacortes revealed this very issue.

Good news: There are a few different options for routing the venting to the outside of your home. A one-minute video by Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford does an excellent job of explaining why this is so important, and what your corrective options are.

Do you have questions or comments about home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

ENCAPSULATION CONSTERNATION: INSULATION CONCEALS CRAWL SPACE PIPE CORROSION

So, you’ve done the right thing in your crawl space and insulated water supply pipes. All is good, right?

Not so fast. 

During a recent visit to a home on Lopez Island, I came across this unfortunate issue: copper water pipes showing substantial corrosion—such as calcification deposits—despite the fact they were tucked into insulation. 

However, insulation is useless and even harmful when it displays signs of moisture intrusion. In this case, that’s the precise scenario I encountered.

The prognosis wasn’t good because the majority of the water supply piping was concealed behind pipe insulation. Therefore, much to my dismay, I had to recommend that all the water supply piping underneath the home be further evaluated by a qualified plumbing contractor to make repairs as deemed necessary. The only way to do that is to remove the insulation and take a look.

To learn more about protecting your pipes, Home Depot recently created a “how-to” video on the topic. Hope it helps you!

Questions or comments about plumbing or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

ON THIS EPISODE OF ‘VERMIN ATE WHAT?’: REFRIGERANT LINE INSULATION

Vermin—particularly mice and rats—eat (or chew) on seemingly everything. Their varied diets and behaviors have frequently been a source of equal parts puzzlement and awe for me.

I’ve seen them devour electrical wires, wood, rubber…just about everything you can think of in a home.

Recently, I came across a home in Friday Harbor, Washington with vermin-damaged heat pump refrigerant line insulation. Vermin-damaged insulation is something I regularly see on the job, especially here in the Pacific Northwest, which is very vermin friendly. This particular issue was also exacerbated by a small opening near the damage where vermin could come and go into the house like Airbnb guests.

In this case, I recommended sealing or screening this open penetration to help safeguard against vermin intrusion/activity and having the insulation repaired and replaced.

Questions or comments about vermin intrusion or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and let us know at @AIHomeInspect

VIDEO: Insulate Exposed Garage Water Pipes!

It’s important to insulate any and all exposed water supply piping- whether it be in the crawl space, attic, or garage- as freezing weather conditions can lead to breakage in unconditioned (unheated) spaces of the home. Water pipe insulation is readily available at hardware stores and is easily installed. This video was taken at a recent home inspection in Anacortes on Fidalgo Island.

Your vermiculite insulation could contain asbestos

If you have insulation in your attic that looks like this picture, it may be vermiculite insulation. This type of insulation could contain asbestos.  Testing for asbestos is outside the scope of the home inspection and requires laboratory sampling.  Here’s a link (click HERE) to the EPA brochure with more information about vermiculite insulation.  This was discovered at a recent home inspection in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.

Attic insulation upgrade issues

We all want our homes to be more energy efficient.  And, with attractive rebate incentives from local utility providers to improve attic insulation, there’s little reason to not jump on board.  In fact, priority #1 should be to air seal and insulate the attic.  Why?  Because hot air rises.  You want to keep it in the house.

A few issues I commonly run into when inspecting older homes that have recently installed attic insulation are concerning.  The most common is for insulation to be blown in around everything, including furnace flues.  Clearance requirements vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but at least one (1) inch, free-and-clear, is required of all.  Insulation in contact with the chimney flue is a safety hazard and is all too commonly discovered.  The second issue I discover is blown-in insulation completely restricting the roof’s soffit vents.  By restricting attic ventilation, you run the risk of elevated moisture and humidity in the attic area.  This can lead to moisture and insect related issues, together with the real possibility of structural problems down the line.  The insulation contractor should install baffles (typically card board or styrofoam), designed to keep insulation away from the underlying soffit vents, and allow for free and unrestricted ventilation of the roof system.

So, yes, please have your attics insulated and brought up to prescriptive levels (typically R38).  But, ensure that your contractor does it right and keeps your home safe.  The simple installation of a sheet metal protective shroud around the chimney flues and soffit baffles will keep your home safe and properly functioning.  Plus, you’ll enjoy substantially reduced heating bills from the increased insulation!

Residential Foundation Insulation

Homes being constructed today are more energy-efficient than those built even just a few years ago, primarily due to significant improvements in building products and techniques, as well as development of high-performance heating and cooling systems and other appliances. At InterNACHI, we believe that the benefits of foundation insulation are often overlooked. Heat loss from an uninsulated, conditioned basement may represent up to 50% of a home’s total heat loss in a tightly sealed, well-insulated home. Foundation insulation is used primarily to reduce heating costs and has little or no benefit in lowering cooling costs. In addition to reducing heating costs, foundation insulation increases comfort, reduces the potential for condensation and corresponding growth of mold, and increases the livability of below-grade rooms. (read full article on InterNACHI)

Energy efficiency: Attic insulation upgrade issues

We all want our homes to be more energy efficient.  And, with attractive rebate incentives from local utility providers to improve attic insulation, there’s little reason to not jump on board.  In fact, priority #1 should be to air seal and insulate the attic.  Why?  Because hot air rises.  You want to keep it in the house.

A few issues I commonly run into when inspecting older homes that have recently installed attic insulation are concerning.  The most common is for insulation to be blown in around everything, including furnace flues.  Clearance requirements vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but at least one (1) inch, free-and-clear, is required of all.  Insulation in contact with the chimney flue is a safety hazard and is all too commonly discovered.  The second issue I discover is blown-in insulation completely restricting the roof’s soffit vents.  By restricting attic ventilation, you run the risk of elevated moisture and humidity in the attic area.  This can lead to moisture and insect related issues, together with the real possibility of structural problems down the line.  The insulation contractor should install baffles (typically card board or styrofoam), designed to keep insulation away from the underlying soffit vents, and allow for free and unrestricted ventilation of the roof system.

So, yes, please have your attics insulated and brought up to prescriptive levels (typically R38).  But, ensure that your contractor does it right and keeps your home safe.  The simple installation of a sheet metal protective shroud around the chimney flues and soffit baffles will keep your home safe and properly functioning.  Plus, you’ll enjoy substantially reduced heating bills from the increased insulation!