Your Daily Dose of Vitamin C: How to Be Comfortable at Home
Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017 by Joy Padgett
It’s summertime and lots of us are planning our vacations….to the beach. Ah, the sun, the sound of the surf….a daily dose of Vitamin C that salves the soul! Did you get that….Vitamin C (Sea?) Okay, so maybe it wasn’t that clever, I’m not claiming to be a comedian. If only we could be as comfortable at home as we are when we’re relaxing on the beach.
Wait a minute! Why can’t we be as comfortable at home as we are on the beach?!
Why? Well, I’m sure it has nothing to do with that one room that is just too hot in the summer. Or that other room that seems to have a hot draft passing through it. I mean, I don’t mind being hot when I’m outside in the sunshine, but I definitely don’t want to be hot when I’m inside! What about you? Which room in your house is just too hot this summer?
Now, I don’t know about you, but I have an inquisitive mind and a desire to know what’s going on….even when it doesn’t relate to my favorite TV show or celebrity. When I had the opportunity to learn more about building science, I took it! Through the course of my studies, I learned that houses just aren’t built with actual comfort in mind. I mean, they are with regards to technology (appliances, central vacuum systems, sound systems and security), but what about physical comfort? How about not having hot and cold drafts? How about having all rooms at the desired temperature? How about improving indoor air quality?
Most builders don’t air seal the homes they are building. This means the insulation they are installing isn’t performing as it should, but instead is just a giant filter. Why? Because, without air sealing, there are gaps and cracks throughout the home that are allowing air to pass up and down from crawlspaces to living spaces and from attics to living spaces and from the outdoors to the indoors and the indoors to the outdoors. You get my meaning, the houses being built are leaking like sieves! This air passes through your insulation depositing dust, dirt, allergens and other pollutants onto the insulation. You can see evidence of this if you see dark streaks in your insulation. It’s called air washing.
And, if you’re living in a home that is at least several years old, the insulation has settled or may not have been up to the recommended levels for your region to begin with! In Central Kentucky, where I live, the recommended level of attic insulation is an R-49 which is about 15 inches of cellulose insulation! Have you measured your attic insulation lately?
My house is over 100 years old so you can imagine what the insulation looked like…..almost non-existent! Okay, so the insulation wasn’t 100 years old since somebody put insulation in it….back in 1986! So, the insulation in my attic measured about 5 inches deep. That’s a third of what should have been in the attic. It was filled with dust, dirt, mouse poo and even a snake skin! YIKES!! So, there are no snakes in my house just in case you were wondering. We checked….thoroughly.
Next, the ductwork in my attic had also settled and the joints were separated in several places. This is normal. Sheet metal trunk-lines are bound to do this as the house moves over the years, which is also normal. This was letting all my cool air escape into the attic! I know, I know, everybody lives in their attics, especially during the summer! I mean, c’mon! I don’t want to pay to cool my attic! Do you?
Leaky ductwork means spaces you don’t live in are being nicely cooled during the summer and nicely heated during the winter. Plus, leaky ductwork is allowing contaminants to enter the system and be circulated throughout the house. I’m talking things like allergens (pollen, dust, etc), and contaminants (mold spores, rodent droppings, etc.). Do you want to breathe in that stuff? I know I don’t! But if your duct-work is leaky, everything that is in your attic (dust, droppings, mold) is being sucked into the duct-work and blown out into the rooms of your house!
The good news is that these things can be fixed! Old, contaminated, compromised insulation can be removed, air sealing can be done, new insulation can be installed and duct work can be sealed and insulated. Then, your home can truly be a comfortable place to live! No more temperature differences between rooms, fewer pollutants will be distributed throughout the house and the insulation can really do what it’s designed for….insulating!
Then, guess what you can do? You can truly relax and be as comfortable in your house as you are when you’re on vacation! Ahhhh….