Long and Frosty

By
Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

The artic has sent a cold blast down across a good portion of the country this week. It's gotten so cold I have seen polar bears heading south.

Well, not really, but it's pretty darn cold.

A long and frosty line in a Connecticut atticThe cold weather has spurred an up tick in calls to my office for thermal imaging scans and energy audits. When the mercury plummet's, the coldest parts of a house become more noticeable. An uncomfortable house is not pleasant.  

One of the more crucial parts of a houses thermal envelope is the plane between the house and the attic. Most people call this the ceiling. Approximately 30% of heat loss occurs through the ceiling. Standard building practices make the ceiling holier than the Pope. Wires, pipes, lights and vents are the common and necessary ceiling penetrations. Unfortunately these holes are rarely sealed.

A common cold weather event in an attic is frost forming on the roof sheathing. During a recent energy audit I found an single long, frosty line on the roof sheathing. It was concentrated closest to the soffit vent dissipating up the sheathing. I knew what was causing this long and frosty line of condensed moisture. It was due to another common and wrong building practice, placing the bathroom vent into the soffit.

Soffit vents are the intake part of the attic ventilation system. The exit is the ridge vent. Subsequently the moisture blown out the soffit effectively gets sucked into the attic through the vent. Interestingly building codes state that a vent can not expel within three feet of a building opening. Venting out the soffit is done in my experience regularly on new construction and on renovations.

I think this long and frost line demonstrates exactly why venting out the soffit is not an acceptable means of expelling the warm, moist air from the bathroom. 

 

Posted by

James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

 ASHI Certified Inspector

To find out more about our other high tech services we offer in Connecticut click on the links below:

Learn more about our Infrared Thermal Imaging & Diagnostics services.

Serving the Connecticut Counties of Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven, Southern Litchfield and Western New London.

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Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Great example of why venting that way is so unacceptable Jim.  Great visual!  Suggested of course.  Everyone should see this blog when their bathrooms are so vented!

Jan 25, 2013 02:29 AM #1
Rainer
284,418
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

James -- great visual to help all understand why that kind of venting should not take place.  Unfortunately, I think that may be what is happening at my house.  Will have to check on that.

Hope you have a fantastic weekend!

Jan 25, 2013 02:37 AM #2
Rainmaker
690,134
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Jay, And as you and both know, many builders don't see a problem with doing this. 

Steven, Yep, it does give a great visual demonstration. Hope yours doesn't look like this :)

Jan 25, 2013 06:19 AM #3
Rainmaker
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Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Jim, That is a perfect example of what happens when you vent in that manner. Sometime the old arctic blast tell you something. Have fun inspecting in a parka and mukluks ;) 

Jan 25, 2013 09:44 PM #4
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jim, awesome line---and in the summer the line is often black---if it has been doing it long enough.

Jan 25, 2013 10:39 PM #5
Rainmaker
690,134
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Don, Thankfully we do not have to spend a lot of time outside. 

Charlie, Yep, there is no gray area with this :)

Jan 25, 2013 10:56 PM #6
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Rainmaker
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James Quarello

Connecticut Home Inspector
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