We all know how excruciatingly hot the summer in Alabama can be. However, you do not have to suffer in an uncomfortable house that you have trouble cooling evenly.
Spring – A Popular Time for Listing a House
Spring is officially here, and for real estate that means many homes are being listed. How will your listing stand out among others? In the vast sea of homes, energy efficiency is a distinguishing factor that more and more buyers are seeking. Understanding the wants of the buyers and key features of the home are critical in successful sales. We recently spoke to two realtors who have listed and sold homes on which Eco Three has performed energy efficient upgrades or retrofits. Realtor Megan Kincaid with Arc Realty said, “Eco Three is a household name when it comes to selling your home! Several of my listings have had Eco Three upgrades in their homes. We were able to sell very quickly since energy efficiency is a key selling point.”
With energy efficient upgrades, we delivered major allergy relief as well as increased comfort to a client of ours. She contacted us to schedule a Home Energy Evaluation, and she was primarily concerned with the overall energy efficiency of her home. However, she also suffered from extreme allergies and was taking several strong medications each day to control them.
We performed the Home Energy Evaluation, and the client hired us to perform upgrades. We sealed the duct work, air sealed throughout the home, and added insulation in the attic. She was thrilled with more evenly distributed heating/cooling. Additionally, she reported that she was now down to taking one mild medication for allergies. She attributes the allergy relief directly to the upgrade work.
The main cause was most likely due to the leaking duct work and air infiltration. Sealing the duct work stopped her HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system from bringing air from her dusty, allergen dense crawlspace/basement into the home’s interior. By sealing the ductwork (specifically the return side which pulls air into the HVAC system), we eliminated the path for allergens to enter and redistribute throughout the house via the duct system supplies. Additionally, by properly air sealing the home, we increased the overall performance of the building envelope and further reduced air infiltration. This prevents outdoor allergens from entering via wind and drafts around plumbing, electrical, and other penetrations.
A home’s HVAC system exists to keep you and other occupants comfortable. However, if it is not clean, it is moving dust and allergens around your home. Change your filter(s) regularly (this varies on pets in the home and other factors). Also, be sure to have your system checked and serviced (cleaned) at least once (if not twice) a year.
For more information on how Eco Three can help you find allergy relief with Home Energy Upgrades, contact us today!
Are You Ready for Summer?
Spring is here, and that brings flowers, birds, and insects…and inevitably the warm weather that turns into the full-blown heat of Alabama’s summers. Are you ready for summer? Perhaps the better question is “is your home ready for summer?”
When winter approaches, preparing your home probably includes some preventative measures. Many homeowners cover outside faucets, protect pipes on exterior walls, and have the heating system serviced. Preparing for the heat is equally important to ensure your house keeps your family cool and comfortable. When weather heats up, we get many calls from homeowners complaining of certain areas or rooms of a home being hot – areas that cannot or will not stay cool. People also call us because their HVAC system runs continuously but still cannot keep up with necessary overall cooling.
Contacting Eco Three for an energy audit and energy efficient upgrades is an excellent way to get ready for summer with ease.
Sealing a home’s ductwork with mastic or foam is a major way to instantly even out distribution of cool air. Air sealing the home at the thermal boundary (generally the attic floor, exterior walls, and lowest floor) helps a home maintain cool comfort. Also, this allows your air conditioner to reach set temperatures and turn off once the home reaches the desired temperature. Proper insulation also helps keep cooled air inside the home.
In addition to having a licensed HVAC contractor perform regular service, there are also a few simple things you can do to help your home get ready for summer. Use blinds and curtains to cover windows during the hot days. Flip the small switch on ceiling fans to make sure they are pushing air down and improving ventilation and air movement. Check your air conditioner’s filter. If you see dust build up, replace with a fresh one. A dirty or clogged filter can cause the system to choke or freeze up. It can also just diminish its ability to cool and dehumidify your air.
Especially if last summer left you and others in your home feeling hot and uncomfortable, call Eco Three today to get ready for summer! (Birmingham area: 205-314-3500 or Gulf Coast area: 251-270-0942).
This Blog was originally published on BPI’s (Building Performance Institute) website here.
Also, be sure to check out this video of a spray foam nightmare that we removed and redid for a homeowner via our Eco Three Gulf Coast office.
Spray Foam Gone Wrong: Issues with Air Flow, Chemical Mixing, Thickness and a Single Thermal Boundary
The popularity of spray foam insulation has steadily increased in recent years. Although it can cost approximately two to three times more than traditional batts or blown/loose-fill insulation, the long-term benefits of foam often outweigh the upfront cost. For those who have had positive experiences with the product, they would recommend spray foam to anyone – even those with sticker shock.
When installed correctly, spray foam acts as an insulator and an air barrier. Depending on the foam type, it can dampen sound and keep moisture out while reinforcing a structure. There are major benefits to using foam; however, there is a lot more to it than just aiming and pulling a trigger. Accurate chemical mixing and proper installation are critical. If either is done incorrectly, several problems can occur.
Potential issues with air flow
For example, when encapsulating an attic by foaming along roof rafters and decking, the entire attic must be sealed to bring the attic inside the thermal boundary. This means that all venting (soffit, ridge, gable or any other venting) must be removed or completely covered. This effect reduces air flow in and out of the attic space to make it “unvented” or “encapsulated.”
Foam reduces airflow in a home, so sometimes fresh air intakes need to be added. An industry standard test called a “Blower Door Test” is the best way to ensure that airflow falls within a target range for the home. If a foamed house is drafty or if the encapsulated attic feels more like the outside temperature, this indicates that exterior air has not been sealed out and is entering through gaps. When an attic is properly sealed and is part of the conditioned space, it should feel about as comfortable as any interior room in the home.
Potential issues with chemical mixing
If the spray foam chemicals are not mixed within the specified temperature range or correct ratio, problems can arise. The product may not adhere to roof decking, attic floors, wall cavities, etc., and/or not expand properly to fill all gaps and cavity surfaces. Improperly mixed applications can also off-gas indefinitely and produce oily residues.
Potential issues with consistent thickness
For spray foam insulation to be effective and maintain a consistent R-Value (resistance to heat), it must be applied in an even thickness. When it is not even, conduction can occur, thus rendering the spray foam ineffective. Using an infrared camera helps identify areas of uneven thickness. Or, one can use a marked stick or skewer to spot check various areas for consistency.
Potential issues with a single thermal boundary
For an attic or crawlspace/basement encapsulation, existing insulation (on the attic floor or crawlspace subflooring) must be extracted so as not to create two thermal boundaries. In such cases, double insulation is not better; it can potentially cause moisture problems.
In conclusion, spray foam insulation – when mixed and applied correctly and evenly – can make a world of a difference in terms of insulating and air sealing a home. Conversely, when it is not done properly by trained professionals, foam can cause big problems. If you find yourself wondering why your spray foam insulated home is not as comfortable as you had anticipated or your bills seem to be high despite this energy efficient product, you may have a problem. Also, if the foam continues to off-gas and produces a smell or an oily residue or seems very uneven, something is not right. Contact a certified and reputable company to examine your home to identify and remedy the issue – either through additional foam or through re-venting and traditional weatherization techniques.
Warning: Chemicals used during spray foam installation are flammable and improper installation could cause a fire.