Monday, September 24, 2012

LED Plate Lights Are Easier To Install, Than Can Lights

Every contractor who installs a product should do his part for energy
efficiency. This is not excusable.

Reducing the ceiling cutout, to tight plaster seal of a 4" junction box, requires some experience. The process is described here Viewed online, the complete pdf album has poor photo rendering. For clear photos, as above, please download the pdf file. 

Here is the completed installation of a T91 LED plate light. I think this is much prettier than a can light. Had 4” LED plate lights been available, I would have preferred two of them here, about 4 ft apart, for no thought of dimming.

Read more . .

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sharing Information

Gaining information worth sharing is hard work, and I have been engaged in this as an engineer and technical writer, down and dirty in attics and crawl spaces. At age 68, I will continue indefinitely to do the dirty work, where there are things to be learned or demonstrated. I need to move on, increasingly, to the harder work of sharing.  In the previous post , I suggested the sharing will move to a new venue much like book publishing. A first inspiration is in the remarkable work of David J. C. MacKay, available for free online, or purchased as a hard-cover book.
(Image Credit) 

An inventive customer brought this to my attention four months ago, with this link:
Energy saving measures from the point of view of an English physcist who thought a lot of what people were saying was BS.

The link for the book, for-free as pdf, is: 

Read it online: 
With Errata: 

I am overwhelmed and humbled by this work. I do all of my writing in appropriate software for such publishing, little-appreciated and poorly marketed by Adobe, FrameMaker. Hacked to look like any other hostile and arcane Adobe product, off-shored to India for further development, I have no interest in expensive versions newer than mine. v 5.5.6, of 1998. Wikipedia informs us of FrameMaker history. FrameMaker professional users talk at Framers List, joined through There is increasing grumbling among these users. 

In a future where many novices with valuable information publish, rather than blog or post web pages, competitor software is needed. Enter, Google? Such software will be needed too, if work quality assurance shifts to third-party verification by writer professionals, as in Diligence Reports. The software, and its usage, might be in the cloud.

Wear A Comfortable Respirator!

Here is a post extracted from my web site, which somehow is less discovered. I wanted it to be found with the Tools label, where labels make a blog more useful. I want to not name too many labels. That I go back and forth between a page and several blogs, tells me the future of free web sharing might be in some new venue. I think that future will be in focused book format.  Those who make the effort and earn readership will work hard. They will need small and fair compensation for their insight and work, through something like iTunes. Here is an example: 

This entry is prompted by dismay in following a thread at Inspection News. People working with insulation must look out for each other, not being tolerant of anything but comfortable, well-fitting,  P100 protection: oil proof, filters at least 99.97% of airborne particles. N95 throw-away covers never fit tightly, and are not acceptable.

This is the mask I use, and prefer from my own comparisons. There are many competitor products, and I will not attempt to be fair to others. This one is so comfortable, and out of the field of vision. The comfort is crucial to safety, and is worth any cost. Professional help to ensure good fit is worth any cost. I confess one reason to prefer the compact pancake filter is ability  to vacuum away too-rapid dust accumulation. I will vacuum filters several times a day when working in extreme dust, as with blowing or stirring cellulose or low-density fiberglass loose-fill insulation. That is better than choking in a cartridge mask that can not be cleared, not affording new cartridges at of the order of $10 per pair. I am thrifty, but do not begrudge the cost of frequent filter changes.

3M products are presented here. Follow manufacturer recommendations for filter renewal.

OSHA is in this conversation, with mandated worker training. I got mine in an online class purchased through my safety tools store.

At August, 2011, here is added comment. I have been making use of ideal weather, to paint another side of my house. It's sixty years old, and at thirty got painted with an early form of latex paint. All of that has to be delicately scraped off, with reveal and some disturbance of covered lead-base paint and primer. I'm removing seriously-checked soffit paint. I studiously wear this 3M respirator. Is it the right one for weatherization work, and for lead too? Here is one take on that, from PK Safety, confirming prescription of 2091 filters. 3M makes a confusing call. For various lead forms, they recommend disposable N100 respirators. There is never a call for more-expensive and better fitting P100 respirators. Surely N100 is a minimum; P100 is better.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cutting Fiberglass Batts

Here is the best tool I have found for cutting fiberglass insulation batts:

Victorinox 12-Inch Wavy Edge BreadKnife, Rosewood Handle
by Forschner, Victorinox, Swiss Army Brands.

Use it for cutting Rockwool batts, too. They cut best with a long knife. Taping knives sold as usable with insulation batts and always inferior, are useless with Rockwool.

I found mine among quality knives at  a locksmith shop, and have used it for six years with complete satisfaction, never dulling. It is twice as hefty as my previous choice, a standard bread knife. I like to cut against decking plywood when I can, not leaving a score with the dull knife tip. I measure length or width by tape measure, always to over-fill a space. End cuts are always by eye upon measure. A length cut is often guided by some slot or by an edge over-hang. Cut full-depth without compression, or angle across the batt; an initial accurate lineup is easy to maintain.

Anyone may readily buy one from Kerekes, Item 40146, at price $56 just now. 

This knife will not cut cotton batts, which are best put down whole. Even a sharp hand saw struggles with batt tie threads, making a mess. The irregular cotton batts, not compressible, demand periodic fill-in with easily-cut fiberglass batts.

Basement wall insulation, to be tucked over half-buried heating ducts, is sliced with large scissors, following a drywall square.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Satisfaction With The BPA/ RTF Work Product

The following is a post of perhaps 2010, surfaced to the present in error in the course of applying labels. I don't know how to put it back. Instead, please read this in the present, updated. I have been interested in the excuse given by my rebates organization, Energy Trust of Oregon, that their policies for weatherization incentives are based on payback studies by Bonneville Power Administration and its contracted Regional Technical Forum. No criticism or improvement I offer can have any effect, against this slow Goliath. I studied the RTF documents in 2010 and reported that numbers presented have no evident bases

The RTF web presence for residential weatherization is now found at 
Here I look for a cumbersome Excel spreadsheet, understood to be RTF's "Work Product."
This link works.

A 2011 document describes the RTF processes:

RTF receives large funding, for no evident good result. A half million dollars being spent on existing measures review in 2012. Is anyone watching?

The "work product" of Bonneville Power Administration/ Regional Technical 
Forum, is in lists of "Deemed Measures." Such lists aim to give decisive figures from technical methodologies, of involved savings in Demand Side Management, DSM, for the power generator. Lists in areas of residential energy savings, are not for guidance of contractors or home owners.

The list at September, 2012 is: 
This is a link for download of an Excel file. It is more conveniently viewed via my Google Drive: 

My comparative study in 2010 is based on ResWXSF_FY10v2_1, which is no longer posted at It may be seen instead where I have posted it at my Google Drive:

These Excel spreadsheets are large and I am entitled to consider significance of these to me, as a weatherization contractor, and as a home owner. I look only at residential weatherization matters, to see that worthy work, happens. In this BPA can't help, they only control rates paid to them by Utility customers. RTF has no direct role in helping. The existing courses of action are through government and other entities that handle funds to be given out or to be on-loan. 

The lack of BPA heart in weatherization is evident in its posting of consumer and contractor links of end-result Specifications documents. The core authorship is at Portland, Oregon neighbor, Energy Trust of Oregon, ETO. Posted ETO specifications are two years out of date. Although BPA tries to push ETO specifications throughout the Columbia River watershed service area, and ETO blames specification deficiencies on RTF limitations, BPA is not paying much attention. No one is in charge; certainly not BPA.

I have asked BPA and RTF to justify their so-expensive work product vs. my measures review with understandable bases, done at no cost. They will not reply, being somehow beyond criticism. At September 2012, I look for changes on insulation measures that matter to me. Comparing documents v2.1, v2.3 and v2.4, I find no progress. A few numbers shift by strange small amounts. 

A respondent to this survey, stated:
"It would be helpful to have actual savings data to back up estimated energy savings."

I know that savings Insulation Math has predicted for my customers, have been of no interest to my rebates organization. The improved utility bills of my customers are not being tracked.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Residence Attic Ventilation Review

This is continuation of posts of  November 30, 2010, December 15, 2010, and February 20, 2012. 
Please pick:

Another Really-Nice Job, Done 
Excellence Is Better Value 
Sealing With Three Times The Value Of Added Insulation 

My customer was served with the exceptional diligence I demand of myself. Yet, attic ventilation was not improved. The only ventilation is in the gable openings, about 90 sq in at each end of the attic, and that has been adequate. There are no mildew problems in this attic, even though the bath fan is not yet ducted through the roof. 

The soffits seem to have ventilation paths, and I did not have the courage or mandate as an insulation installer, to question this.

I dutifully baffled all roof joist bays, not knowing where vents might come through. There was no visible light.

With re-roofing imminent, I have questioned the contracted provision of added ventilation paths, two new static vent cans near roof peak. No one has yet taken responsibility for soffit vents. I now see that the holes in the vinyl soffit facia are tiny, and are fully blocked by wood structure. Soffit reconstruction is not feasible.

We are left, then, with the option I have imagined all along. For high-summer heat, rely on a solar-powered roof fan, and enlarged gable vents. Place the bigger gable vents symmetric if possible, and partially shutter them, to fully open only when the roof fan is operating. For the roof fan, I like the concept of Air Vent, Inc. with a PV array facing South, separate from a fan on the back side of the roof, North here. None of the involved elements are mature, and I hope to find more-suitable products in 2013. While waiting, there has been little summertime heat burden, due to thorough attic insulation.

If a re-roof must proceed before I am ready with powered-fan elements, I will instruct through the home owner, that there be no high roof cans. Such static vents lead purists to say that gable vents get confused, and should be blanked-off. The argument in this is stronger if a continuous roof peak vent is considered. I think I have a better handle on the big picture, and will confidently lead to have things my way. Retain and improve the gable vents.

This review is for information to the contracted roofer, for conversation with Joe Lstiburek, a no-gable-venting purist, and for inspiration of solar fan and gable louver manufacturers, who ARE part of the solution. Case in point.

And I might stand corrected. Air Vent Inc. reminds me there is another option for low air intake, SmartVent

I approach this as a skeptic. SmartVent claims 9 sq in per ft net free area, nfa9, through a load-supporting edge 3/4" thick. I think that is impossible.

Nfa9,  is needed here, at one sq ft per 150 sq ft house area, 60% for inlet paths, in a solution of static venting only, no gable vents.

Job Revisited, November 2013

There is a further post at February 2014, addressing wished-for innovation in design and installation of solar attic fans.

Sadly, I find that the roofer brought into this job has disregarded pleas that he not add static roof vents where they serve no inlet flow paths. There is NO air circulation from lower down, and the new roof vents clash in function, with existing gable vents. There is only one solution to this new problem. The home now must have solar powered fans, and they must occupy both new static vents. The gable vents will serve always as air inlets while the fans are running. This is the direction I wanted all along, but think this small house would be better served by a single solar powered fan. I contributed to this new dilemma by not finding a suitable fan in advance of the reroofing.