4 Common Problem Areas Affecting Your Comfort at Home
Wednesday, November 15th, 2017 by Joy Padgett
The weather is ever-changing in Central Kentucky and temperatures are dropping as we prepare to head into winter. And we all know how winter works here….it might not actually get here until February. But, still, temperatures are on the down-slide. So, how comfortable are you in your house? Have you noticed any rooms being colder than others or floors that are so cold you have to wear two pairs of socks? You are not alone! Let me share my story with you, if I may.
I live in a house/cabin that is reportedly over 100 years old (according to the old timers out in this area), so I can sympathize with those of you who have cold spots in your house. My house has a crawl space (if you can even call it that) that is about 8 inches tall. NOBODY is going to get under there! Not even the skinny guy!
We noticed 4 different problems causing the greatest comfort issues in our house.
Problem #1: The Floors
When we moved in, there were gaps and cracks in the floors and air was pouring in from the “crawl space”….and since we moved in during a November cold snap, the house was difficult to keep warm. Now, these floors were not built over a sub-floor, so, we could actually shine a flashlight through the cracks and actually see the dirt underneath the house! Some of these gaps were ¼ inch wide and 2 feet long, so we’re talking a lot of air flow in many areas throughout the house. I love fuzzy socks, but found myself having to wear 2 pairs just to keep my feet warm!
The photo below shows our original floors which have no sub-floor under them. Those little gaps between the planks were actually allowing a lot of air to come through!
To reduce this airflow coming through the floors, we installed laminate flooring (and by “we”, I mean my husband) and that really helped. Laminate is installed over a sort of vapor barrier type plastic, so this helped reduce the airflow coming from the crawl space. Like tongue-in-groove, the laminate snaps together and forms a nice tight “seal”. Problem #1 solved!
Problem #2: The Windows
The windows had been installed just before we moved in and were nice double pane windows. They were replacing old single pane glass windows that were believed to have been the original windows of the house. Now, I’m not sure this is true, but that’s what we heard. Anyway, the contractor didn’t bother to caulk around the new windows or fill the gaps at both the top and bottom of the windows. So, yep! You guessed it! More cold air was coming in around these windows. And they aren’t your typical replacement windows either. The original sills were left intact and the new windows set into these sills…..it sounds weird and it really is weird. The “sills” sort of jut out of the wall a couple of inches on both the tops and bottoms of each window. This created an un-sealed and un-insulated space above and below each window.
Anyway, we had to remove old newspaper (dating back to the 1970’s) someone stuffed into the top and bottom sills and actually air seal those cavities. Although whoever stuffed the newspapers into these cavities was making a decent attempt to stop the air flow, using insulation board and caulk was a much more effective way to stop the air flow. Once we had that completed, we added caulking around each window. Problem #2 solved!
This photo is a little difficult to understand, but it was taken with the camera on the floor underneath the window looking up at the underside of the window sill. This “sill” was actually about 3 inches deep from the bottom of the sill to the bottom of the window. This was taken after the newspaper was removed, but before we actually sealed this area.
Problem #3: The Trimwork
Since this house had been around for quite some time, settling had occurred and with that, the baseboards, crown moulding and trim work was also leaky. Why, I swear the air coming in from the baseboards could blow my hair! Add to that the gaps around the door trim and the crown moulding and we’re talking a lot of airflow here!
So I spent what seemed like weeks on end down on my hands and knees caulking the tops and bottoms of the baseboards in the entire house! (Well, I still have to do the laundry room/closet area). PLUS, I had to get up and down off my step ladder 52,000 times to caulk all the trim around the ceiling! And then caulk around all the door trim throughout the whole house. Needless to say, I am now an expert in caulking! Problem #3 solved!
Problem #4 The Kitchen Ceiling
Perhaps one the worst areas in the house was/is the kitchen. It had originally been a back porch and someone had it enclosed. I doubt a real contractor did the work because of the way this area was enclosed (at least I hope it was a Do-It-Yourselfer because this was very poorly done). Part of the original porch roof was left intact inside this room and, instead of properly finishing the ceiling, they simply threw up some horrible looking old barn wood and left it at that. And mind you, the barn wood doesn’t fit together like tongue-in-groove. This ceiling is super leaky. Plus, the sound of rain on the tin roof in this room is deafening! We haven’t replaced the ceiling in the kitchen yet, but it is on my “Honey-Do List”!
Our plan is to remove the old barn wood, air seal the ceiling, insulate the roof deck in this area, and then either drywall or use tongue-in-groove planks to finish the ceiling. The air sealing will prevent outside air from coming in during warmer months and warm air from escaping the house during colder months. The insulation will obvious insulate this area and also help provide some sound dampening since the roof is metal. Of course, the drywall or plank ceiling, whichever we decide to go with, will provide a nice finished look for the kitchen.
So, when it comes to understanding the frustrations of living in an uncomfortable home, I can feel your pain! Home is the one place we should be most comfortable, after all, it is where we live. We spend our hard-earned money on nice comfy furniture, memory foam mattresses, big screen TV’s, top-rated kitchen appliances, area rugs or wall-to-wall carpet because we want to be able to relax and unwind in our own home. Some people even have dishwashers that don’t hardly make a peep, Jacuzzi-style bathtubs, and heated tile floors!
Evidently, people like to be comfortable. And that is a good thing! So why do we ignore rooms in our homes we can’t use all year long? Why do we turn the thermostat up and down all day just trying to find a temperature that allows us to be comfortable in every room and yet, never find that temperature? Why do we seal off certain rooms in the winter and don’t dare enter other rooms in the summer? Why do we wear two pairs of fuzzy socks in the winter when we really want to go barefooted?
This is still a mystery to me. Our homes are probably the biggest investment we will ever make, and yet, we don’t expect it to perform to our high expectations. Now that doesn’t make any kind of sense! I suspect that most people don’t know what to do about this problem or who to call. Well, now you know! Call the company I work for, speak to a real live person with a friendly voice (unless you call after business hours and get our voice mail), talk to someone located right here in Versailles and not some foreign country and schedule an appointment with a qualified home comfort specialist. After all, at Weatherization Plus, we fix uncomfortable homes!