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Recently, I performed a home energy audit here in SE Michigan. The customer was bothered by many cold spots throughout the house. I set up my blower door in an entry door to test for air leaks. I turned on the blower door and then went hunting for those air leaks. I found air leaks at some electrical outlets and switches on the exterior walls. This infrared photo of a quadruple switch box and a...

Stucco siding is a sand-based siding and is very porous. Stucco is installed in several ways, such as: over concrete block, over wood frame with a metal or plastic lathe, over Styrofoam on wood frame called EIFS, and the list goes on. Stucco like any other masonry surface develops typical cracks from various reasons such as shrinkage after it dries, poor installation mixture, or normal settlement....

As part of our "coverage" of National Radon Action Month, I thought we could take a look at a question that seems to be getting some discussion lately—How often should you test your home? A colleague of mine shared an interesting analogy with me that helps put frequent testing into proper perspective. She compared radon testing to medical checkups. You get your teeth checked twice a year. Women an...

ON mode may actually increase radon gas levels! You and your family can’t see or smell radon gas but it’s present in every home. Radon is a cancer-causing gas which comes from radioactive elements (uranium and radium) present in soil.  Radon gas enters through the home’s foundation due to pressure differences between the inside and outside of the home. Operating your HVAC system in ON mode may...

Not all blower motors are designed for ON mode! Check if the fan is rated for continuous use.  If your fan isn’t rated for continuous use but you still elect to run the fan in ON mode, budget to replace the fan sooner than normal with a fan that is designed for continuous use. Other Issues Filter gets dirty faster, system works harder. Remember the filter we discussed in Part 1? The fi...

A recent fast moving snowstorm expected to bring heavy accumulation of snowfall had XCEL Energy (natural gas supplier) warning radio listeners of making sure exterior vents were not blocked by snow buildup.  Xcel's concern, obviously, was a safety issue that if venting was not properly maintained, indoor carbon monoxide levels may increase due to inadequate combustion and venting of gases. All ...

Question "What's more energy efficient - ON or AUTO? I leave my fan on to keep air circulating but I've heard lots of different answers, including 'The AC pulls in air from the outside,' but I don't think that happens unless a door is open. The other answer I've heard is that 'It costs just as much to run the fan on as it does when the AC is also running,' but I thought fans require low power ...

Barring some strange fetish, you probably have not fallen in love with your TPRV.  That's OK, we know it's hard to develop affection for an inanimate object. It's just that TPRVs are the unsung heroes of the plumbing world.  When a TPRV does its thing, it's quietly competent.  When a TPRV isn't operative, you need to be really, really concerned. What Exactly is  a TPRV? TPRV = Temperature...