J.Schwartz,llc Construction Blog (PAHIC#861)

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tools for Free? You already have one – the snow, just look at it and “read” what it tells you.

There are a lot of benefits to the fluffy white stuff; fun, beauty, a cause for a slowdown in our otherwise hectic lives, but there is another that is a little less obvious.
Have you ever looked up at your roof a day or so after a snow? Have you looked at your neighbors in comparison? What do you see?
The speed that the snow melts can tell us a lot about the insulation in your home, the way that the snow melts can tell us a lot about the ventilation in your home, and the icicles that may form over the eaves can tell us a bit about both.
If you look around your neighborhood, you will see some pretty interesting things on roofs as the snow melts. After a good snow, some roofs just melt the snow away in no time – and unless you really like the way your roof looks – and are therefore purposely heating it, this is not a good sign for the energy efficiency of your home. (Take care to make sure that you are looking at rooflines that face a similar direction as the one you are comparing it to – that will make a HUGE difference in how the snow melts.)
Some roofs will show patterns as the snow melts – maybe the area around the plumbing vent melts faster than the surrounding areas, maybe you can see the stripes where the roof rafters lay below the roofing and plywood, and you may even be able to tell where the attic access is by noting a square area somewhere in the melting snow. Sometimes you can see a home with an addition whose roof holds the snow, but the main house is snow-free (or vice-versa). All of these can tell us a lot about what further investigation should be done to make a home more efficient, healthier (that’s right – ventilation and efficiency correlate directly with the health of your home)and therefore more comfortable (both directly, and from a fiscal point of view).
After the observations, we can investigate where the air leakage around the vent pipe is coming from, we can check the insulation levels in the attic or between the rafters (based on construction and design of the home), we can look for un-insulated recessed lights that break the air/insulation barriers, we can look for whether or not cold air is getting under the attic insulation, and believe it or not – we can often (almost always) find leakage that comes all the way from the basement. All of these things can be easily and inexpensively remedied – and all of these remedies will decrease energy consumption (sometimes drastically), increase comfort, and increase the longevity of your most prized possession – your home. We can use the observations collected from the outside, in conjunction with a blower-door test to fully understand how the envelope and interior of your home is working (or failing), and how it is “connected” with the outside where it should not be. We can then come up with a comprehensive plan to of attack.
So as we in the Northeast are under a blanket of snow, take the opportunity to look up – at the trees, at the sky – and now, at your roof; and if you would like us to come out and analyze what you see, audit your home, and make it better from all of the angles that we wrote about – than just call; we will be waiting. 610-644-6700!

posted by Joe Schwartz - J. Schwartz,llc at 11:21 am  

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