Saturday, January 29, 2011

Roof Cross Braces

Getting around in an attic is sometimes made difficult by head bangers, there for uncertain reasons. The function of ties under a roof peak, between roof joists, is to resist uplift and ruin of a roof, in storm conditions. Some will think the purpose of ties is as found in code requirement of collar ties not more than one third distant from tops of walls, to the roof peak, to hold walls in absence of ceiling joists. Collar ties will have little relevance to residential construction.

Here is a slide show review of the problem, and some solutions.

Here is another view of the solutions, in a web page.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Should We Rely On "Agencies"?

The last post suggests reliance on "agencies" to achieve good, honest work in weatherization. I don't think that is the way.

Public display of customer reports might work. We might all belong to an affordable and more-informative Angie's List. With diligent reporting of satisfaction, or being wronged, a careful home owner could intelligently choose honest workers and consensus best practices. I have tried to influence Angie's List to entice fuller membership through low pricing, and reward of responsible participation. Suggestions include a Honored Member status, earning half-price annual fees, at not more than $20 per year. All new members are Honored Members, helping them over a barrier of uncertainty, where one must pay first, to see the value. Honored Member status is retained by responsible participation, say a combined number of five, in posted reports and referred new members. With five years of Honored Member status, it becomes permanent. I want Angie's List to succeed in this way, and welcome customer reports on my work. Good work, reported, is my investment in advertising.

Another solution is having self-maintained records of work well done. I imagine  Google-like companies (several) setting up data warehouses, where the condition of our homes is a public record. Things that matter to society get recorded. Measures taken for energy efficiency are for the common good, and are included. Posting is voluntary, with rewards. The public record is a basis for home valuation at resale, and for more-favorable taxes and mortgage interest rates.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Why Cheat With Attic Insulation?

I will always do what it takes to not bury savings opportunities, or hazards, under insulation in attics. Every job needs at least minimal walkways, to guard against step-through where safe footing becomes hidden. Any footing, buried or not, must be screwed down, as trick footing is far more dangerous than none. Access will happen in every attic, and that must not trash insulation. Accessibility for inspection must be required. There must be no open floor pits, or insulation voids, as complained of in the previous posts, and comprising missed savings opportunities. Every hidden diligence measure with significant cost and savings must be recorded with photographic proof, sparing inspectors of dangerous or impossible tasks.

Why not cheat, when there is low probability of inspection, or a declared policy of permission, that things like "air sealing" are not required. and there are no rules against voids. Voids predictably occur with blown insulation, under or in the lee of lumber and ducts. Voids occur where batts are ill-fit, or are carelessly placed over joist bays that are not full of insulation.

While cheating is permitted, many contractors will feel compelled to participate, for survival. They will offer the excuse that no one has taught them, or commanded them, to do right. One listed on the New York Stock Exchange will do it, perhaps leading the way, on behalf of detached investors. Much of the easiest energy savings in homes will be left undone, for many more years to come. We should not blame only the compromising or dishonest contractors for this. Agencies that will not use their heft for best results, will be largely to blame. 

Booby Trapped

How would one know that all of this insulation by an honored competitor, Gale Contractor Services, missed sixty percent of the energy savings society wishes? An inspector will not justify risks in the dangerous darkness, or have the time, to find the buried crimes. I did report fraud to the reviewing authority, Energy Trust Of Oregon, which responded by adding a "star", to highest-level approval.

Here is approximate math on the missed savings, as a graphical summary, for conduction/ convection through the attic floor:

A sea of poorly-placed insulation would have saved about $130 per year, while correctly placing the same insulation will save a total of $200 per year. The missed savings of $70 per year are less important than those related to diligence, sealing the attic floor. Closing a plumbing vent chase floor pit that exposed 150 sf of walls on three floors, will save $120 per year. The negligent work would have achieved a total $130 per year, only forty percent of the achievable $320 per year, with the same added insulation. Where the installed cost of insulation is only about $800, the savings neglected were hugely significant.

The better attic is useful, safe and pretty. The roof has some needed reinforcement.

 Needful things get fixed, when there is safe access and lighting.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dissing of Diligence

Complaint of a dissing of diligence, in the prior post , had a specific basis.

A large and honored competitor, seemingly gets away with complete disregard of diligence, and outright fraud.

All found trash, and anything they drop, is left for burial. Unfilled joists are left as voids, cancelling the value of covering insulation over at least 25% of the space. Since insulation matters mainly where there was none, added insulation (that I had to pile elsewhere) was almost entirely wasted.

The fraud was in having a contract to seal the floor pits (wiring holes and any open chases), not doing that work or faking it, and accepting payment.

This is a first look at the meanest failure to seal, at the main plumbing vent. This kind of situation exists in most attics, and will be well-known to the worker. A glob in a spot is of no use. The worker is apparently instructed that sealing is expenditure of one can of an inappropriate foam. When it is empty, you're done.

The scheduler, and management, knew I would overturn their work to install an attic ladder, new bath fan, decking and more, out of sequence, after they were done. Despite this, workers wasted foam all over the dirty insulation around the fan, accomplishing nothing. 

I got to see work not prettied by exceptional effort.

Spaghetti noodles decorated electrical junction boxes buried under insulation, and about 10% of the wiring penetrations over walls, expending the rest of the can.

The dry spaghetti didn't wet or seal, anything. The worker did not supply that can, or choose what to do with it. This must happen in every home "served" by this competitor. How will contractors learn there is a better way, with my flexible grout?

Here is the full extent of the opening at the important pit, going down three floors, and exposing 100 sq ft of interior walls to attic temperature. The waste of savings would have exceeded all savings from properly placed floor insulation. for years to come.

Here is proper closure of the plumbing chase. Looking back in October, 2012 review, I wish I had used flexible grout here, too. Foam can't be relied upon to fill and seal, where it quickly skins over, and, yet sticky, can't be forced-in by fussing afterward.

Here is proper sealing of floor penetrations for wiring, with stuffed insulation, and flexible grout.

All of this has been directly brought to the attention of the responsible rebates sponsor, Energy Trust of Oregon. Upon investigation, without reply to me, the contractor, Gale Contractor Services, got a boost in its rating from next-highest, to highest. What am I to do now, with my proof of their dishonesty?