insulation: When Any Upper Level Is Hot Insulation Is Almost Always The Reason - 07/05/17 03:46 AM
When any upper level is hot insulation is almost always the reason.
And why else wouldn't it be?  It could be that the air conditioning does not reach or blow hard enough into the upper level.  But that air pressure is an easy check.
When air is blowing well through a register I have my client feel it so they will know when the mechanism isn't blowing properly.
But going into the attic we found our answer there.
Insulation was indeed the reason here!  Large areas without insulation were evident.  And along the edges of the roof the condition was the same.
Thermal images of each … (17 comments)

insulation: Attic Insulation Certificate - 06/23/17 02:20 AM
In new construction the thermal barrier in the attic should be verified by an attic insulation certificate.
This house is supposed to be Energy Star compliant for Virginia standards.  As such there are criteria that are to be met.  For example, windows and doors should have certain U-factors and solar heat gain coefficients.  There should be foam sealant around windows and door framing, and gaps in exterior walls.  And the insulation in the walls and ceiling should meet certain criteria.  There are more criteria.
And everything is supposed to be inspected and verified by someone who insures that Energy Star criteria are met.
One … (5 comments)

insulation: This Much Missing Insulation Can Influence A Whole Room - 03/21/17 01:45 AM
This much missing insulation can influence a whole room.
It doesn't seem like a lot, but with insulation just a little that is missing goes a long way toward dramatically increasing energy bills.
This subject house was advertised to have had a new roof installed just a few years ago.
It was an older townhouse, and going into the attic space it was obvious that much of the sheathing had to be replaced along with the shingles.
That likely was the result of the roof shingles being very old at the time of replacement.
The previous roof may have leaked substantially, rotting the roof sheathing below.
It … (8 comments)

insulation: "Why Do You Need To Check The Insulation? It's A New House." - 01/11/17 04:04 AM
"Why do you need to check the insulation?  It's a new house."  So asked the builder's supervisor.
The answer is simple - because a home inspector observes and reports a variety of things during a home inspection, whether the house is new or old.  And insulation is a HUGE part of that inspection.
So what was promised?
Virginia requires an insulation certificate for new construction.
It is to be provided by the insulation company verifying what they have done.
It lists the kind, weight (red arrow), and depth of the insulation.
The formula stated on this cert would obtain an R-44, shown in the red circle.
The stated … (9 comments)

insulation: A Facelift For An Upstairs Bathroom. But Wait! - 10/15/16 08:13 PM
This is an older house with a facelift for an upstairs bathroom.  But wait!
New appliances, lights, floor, and ceramic wall tile!
Everything worked well and I thought the bathroom looked great.  I really liked the shelf in the shower stall.  But wait, isn't the shower wall on the exterior rear wall of the house?
Then how did they get the space to sink that shelf in there?
How can you tell if it's an exterior wall by just looking at it?
You can't.
But Mighty Mo can!
The sun happened to be shining on the wall at the time this thermal image was taken.
Not a very hot … (12 comments)

insulation: In New Construction Buyers Should Be Asking For This Insulation - 10/03/16 08:30 PM
In new construction buyers should be asking for this insulation.
What insulation is that?
Mineral wool - old-school, batt, mineral wool insulation.  Why do I say old school?  Because it was first introduced in 1840, and used as a blown-in product in attics in the 50s and 60s.  It was displaced by fiberglass, unfortunately so in my opinion, as mineral wool looks to be the superior product.  And builders are coming back to it.
Why?
For many reasons, and all of them good.
Let's list a few.
It keeps homes warmer in winter and cooler in summer.  Isn't that what insulation is for?  In a … (14 comments)

insulation: Things We Did Not Know About Insulation Before Thermal Imaging - 07/13/16 09:46 PM
Things we did not know about insulation before thermal imaging.
I got into thermal imaging about 14 years ago because my son was on his second all-expense-paid-trip to Iraq and told me about some of the fun tools he used.  Some of those tools included thermal imaging.
He thought a thermal camera might be useful during home inspections.  I had never considered it, but looked into it, and found that there was a big thermal imaging industry out there. 
But I also found that few home inspectors used thermal cameras.  Looking into all the manufacturers, and many styles and high costs of the units … (12 comments)

insulation: "The Loft Room Is Always Warm - It Won't Cool, No Matter What" - 06/27/16 08:19 PM
During the phone call I heard, "The loft room is always warm - it won't cool, no matter what."
They understood I have the ability to "see" insulation.  While that is not exactly true, Mighty Mo has the ability to distinguish warm from cool, and can "see" where insulation is and is not.
So, we went up into the room.  It was dramatically warmer than the third level, which was warmer than the main level. 
The thermostat on the third level was set to 72F.  That's pretty cool.  But going to the fourth level, or the loft room, the ambient air temperature was 87F.  … (11 comments)

insulation: A Pre-Drywall Inspection Is The Only Time To See This - 06/26/16 08:53 PM
A pre-drywall inspection is the only time to see this.
A thermal camera can show where areas are not insulated or not insulated well.  But why find that out after the house is built?
A pre-drywall inspection is the only time to see the house in a skeletal condition.  THAT is when the insulation should be examined.  And it is the ONLY time that areas that will need to be insulated can be examined.
See these photos and notice the large areas where insulation will be difficult, if not impossible, to install.
Long areas along exterior walls between the basement ceiling the floor of the first … (15 comments)

insulation: A Garage Wall Is Still An Exterior Wall - 06/22/16 09:07 PM
A garage wall is still an exterior wall.
And, as such, if it abuts the house, it needs to be insulated!  Remember the 5% Rule!
On a new construction inspection I noticed something interesting.  The room adjoining the kitchen and garage was very warm.
The area in this photo is in the garage attic space.  It is above the garage ceiling, but still abuts the house.
It opens to the entry from the garage, which is also a combination mud room and laundry room.
Entering that space from the kitchen I noticed it was kind of warm.
It had its own floor register and was serviced with … (11 comments)

insulation: When The Cable Guy Shovels The Snow In The Attic - 06/11/16 09:30 PM
This is what you get when the cable guy shovels the snow in the attic.
On new construction it is best to get subs to do things in proper order.
What if the cable guy is scheduled to show up AFTER the insulation is blown into the attic space?
Gee whiz, Mr. Wizard, that might not be the best time!
Starting at the attic access opening, the cable guy decides to begin his journey to the rear of the attic where his wiring has entered the house.
My client had paid for EXTRA insulation, bringing the R-value up to 48.  That is a lot of extra … (12 comments)

insulation: Why Does The Bath Water Get Cold So Quickly? - 03/06/16 04:42 PM
You hop into a nice, hot bath and sit for only a few minutes only to wonder - why does the bath water get cold so quickly?
One thing I always look for on a pre-drywall inspection is how well the bath tubs are insulated if they are beside an exterior wall.
If the wall(s) is not insulated well, and by that is meant that the cavities between the 2x4s are filled completely and all the way to the floor, it is something that must be called out and rectified before the bathroom is finished.
The why is simple.
Beside and surrounding the tub is … (14 comments)

insulation: Missing Skylight Insulation Can Be A Huge Energy Waster - 03/02/16 07:20 PM
Missing skylight insulation can be a huge energy waster.
While looking around with Mighty Mo I could see that this skylight cavity was missing some insulation.
Skylights that are placed over tall hallways, or cathedral ceilings, often have a lot of drywall area visible inside the house.
Such is the case here.
From the ceiling to the skylight is about 12'.
So, as heat seeks cold, and since this would represent the highest point in the house, during the winter heat from the house would find this the perfect place to try to escape.
Conversely, in summer, heat from the attic will radiate inward and cause this … (9 comments)

insulation: The 5% Rule Of Missing Insulation - 01/19/16 05:48 PM
Many insulation studies have come to the rule of thumb consideration that can be called
The 5% Rule of Missing Insulation.
Basically stated, if a given area, say a wall or ceiling in a room in a home, is missing 5% of insulation, that missing 5% will cause a more than 50% loss in R-value for that area.  To repeat: 
More than 50% loss in R-value for that area.
That is substantial!
Let's say you are in newer construction, and there because the homeowners have called about cold rooms.  If Mighty Mo is tagging along doing a thermal image sweep of the house to check on … (11 comments)

insulation: What Can Loose Wall Insulation And Tutti Frutti Have In Common? - 09/14/15 08:51 PM
What can loose wall insulation and tutti frutti have in common?
Well, it depends on the temperature outside!
Think Little Richard --
Wop bop a loop bop a lop bom bom!
Tutti frutti, oh rutti,
Tutti frutti, oh rutti,
Tutti frutti, oh rutti,
Wop bop a loo bop a lop ba ba!
I suppose I could go on.
So, what do you think?  Tutti frutti?
Sometimes different thermal image palettes lend different information, and this one surely does!
The temperature difference between indoors and out was only 13F.  Ideally you want to see a 17F difference to get a good a good thermal image.
But this wall showed so much I thought I … (26 comments)

insulation: "Why Is The Bedroom So Hot?" A Void, Devoid, Avoid! - 09/06/15 07:55 PM
I heard this from my client - "Why is the bedroom so hot?"
Always, I responded, it is insulation related.
This is the master bedroom design with two high walls and a cathedral ceiling. 
Further, without a thermal camera to "see" it, the sloping cathedral ceiling insulation could be the issue but might not be visible from the attic space.
But, up we went into the attic.  I wanted to find out why!
And we found the culprit!
A corner, radiating heat into the room via walls that had apparently never been insulated (!) and a horizontal section of ceiling similarly bare.
That horizontal bare area is over the … (14 comments)

insulation: "Please Check Out The Remodeled Bathroom!" - 07/07/15 09:53 PM
The feature list said, "Please check out the remodeled bathroom!"
Not much raises my antenna higher or more quickly than a feature list which states there has been remodeling!
And the bathroom was beautiful!  Including the large, very quiet exhaust fan.
Looking at it nothing seemed out of the ordinary.  In fact, the bathroom looked pretty good.
It was 930am, so the attic had not heated up too much yet.  Hopefully it wasn't over 120F up there!
So up the home inspector went.  Time for some recon.
And there it was!  Shiny and new.  With a nice new housing.  With a nice new metal vent tube.  With a … (12 comments)

insulation: The Gravity Check - Insulation Slips Inside Walls! - 12/13/14 08:36 PM
Gravity works, and I can see it especially in older homes when I perform the gravity check - insulation slips inside walls!
This house was built in 1951.  And I see this all the time.
Doing a thermal sweep around the house each room demonstrated exterior walls that looked something like this.
Cavities that were not completely insulated. 
Certainly by todays' standards the insulation put into houses in the 50s was minimal.
And it is likely they didn't staple it up inside the walls.
But it is quite evident here where insulation has slipped, come loose, pulled away from the drywall, … (69 comments)

insulation: When Is R-13 Insulation NOT R-13 Insulation? - 10/25/14 08:51 PM
When I can see the insulation installation during a pre-drywall inspection, I am able to speak with my clients about this question:  when is R-13 insulation NOT R-13 insulation?
Basically when it's compacted too tightly, it leaves gaps, is smashed inward beside studs or slips down inside the wall.
But start at the beginning.
The number associated with R-value is insulation's ability to RESIST heat transfer.  Hence the R.  More fully stated, R-value is Resistance Value. 
Heat seeks cold.  Heat moves toward cold.  Insulation is an attempt to prevent heat from passing through the thermal barrier it provides. 
Your thermos prevents … (36 comments)

insulation: I Saw An Insulation Best Practice And A Not-So-Best Practice - 09/12/14 06:18 PM
Busy all day with new construction, and looking at attic insulation, I saw a Best Practice  and a not-so-best practice.
The Best Practice  is the use of a ruler to determine insulation depth.  On this pre-drywall inspection, notice how the bottom of the ruler comes to the bottom of the truss rafter?  That's so the insulation depth is accurately measured.
One of the most common rubs I have with builders is over the value of insulation.
Insulation provides a thermal barrier, no matter the type.  And each type provides different R-values determined by depth.
R-value, or Resistance Value, is the quality … (16 comments)

 
Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) Rainmaker large

Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Bristow, VA

More about me…

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Address: Bristow VA 20136

Office: (703) 330-6388

Mobile: (703) 585-7560

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An experienced home inspector's look at current home inspection events and conditions along with his useful recommendations.


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