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Eliminating “Bad” Air from the Basement

How can I safely eliminate potentially contaminated air from my basement?

Deborah,

Thank you for a great question – we do appreciate it.

A lot of companies sell a device intended to accomplish this. The type of device you are asking about is essentially a thru-wall exhaust fan on the upper wall of your basement that pulls air through a duct from just above basement floor level.

The air at basement floor level is likely heavier air containing a higher percentage of humidity. Air ..read more

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Is brick a better insulator than wood or vinyl?

Brick is NOT a good thermal insulator and as a rule, neither is vinyl. Some vinyl products, constructed with sealed air chambers in the cross section, can be decent thermal insulators.

Wood, as compared to either of them is good thermal insulator.

What we mean when we call something a thermal insulator is that it resists the transfer of heat through it.

When we use the term “seasonally comfortable” to explain a home or building, ..read more

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Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends and listeners!

Here are a few turkey tips for one of our favorite holidays… 1. Thawing your turkey – be sure to always thaw your turkey in the refrigerator – never in the sink or on the counter! Be patient and plan ahead as it can often take several days to thaw your turkey, depending on the size.

2. Don’t overstuff your turkey! If your turkey is densely packed with stuffing it will not cook as evenly.

3. ..read more

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White Mold or Efflorescence?

I have a white substance on my basement walls. Is it mold? And is it hazardous?

Hattie,

Thank you for using us!

That “white mold” on your basement walls is not a good thing and, if it is mold, needs to be eliminated.¬†Among other things, molds in a closed environment have been linked to respiratory issues in humans. Most household molds can be controlled by monitoring humidity and making sure the moisture is low.

However, it is possible that what you think is white ..read more

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Problems with Well Pump Pressure Switch

Is it right that our well pump cycles every time we turn on our water?

Verna,

Thanks for the inquiry – we can appreciate your concern.

If your well pump cycles every time you use water you most likely have an issue with your pressure tank or the pressure switch. The pressure switch is intended to cycle the pump on and off between pre-set pressure ranges.

Pressure tanks hold a volume of water under pressure to supply water to the house within those pre-set ..read more

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Smelling Gas from Convection Oven

Should I smell gas when I use my oven in convection mode?

Stephanie,

Thanks for the inquiry – we appreciate you!

You should not smell gas when a gas appliance is in operation – much less when it is not! The gas stove/convection oven is designed to combust the gas to produce heat, so there is an issue of gas being released, but not consumed if you can smell the gas.

In a convection oven, we are simply using a fan to circulate the ..read more

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The New Superior Wall Foundation System

I’m in the planning stages of building a new home. What can you tell me about the Superior Wall Foundation System?

Bryan,

Thanks for a great question.

What is known as the “Superior Wall Foundation System” is a great product for new homes. It is a pre-cast concrete wall set on a stone footing and backfilled with well-drained material.

The concrete is a high-cement mix that provides excellent strength and resistance to water/moisture infiltration.

The wall panels are precast off-site and assembled on site such ..read more

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Adding Comfort to Your Home Through Insulation

What would it take to add insulation and make my home comfortable?

Jon,

Great question. After this summer’s intense heat and a lot of high bills for air conditioning, many homeowners are realizing proper insulation in the attic AND side-walls will make a difference!

A “typical” attic simply requiring an additional 10″ or so of insulation may run $1,200-1,500 for a good cellulose product. This does not include any potentially needed air sealing or vent reconfiguration or removal of old, potentially contaminated, insulation ..read more

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Water, Water, Everywhere

Two issues: First – we have water coming through the wall that is adjacent to the driveway; and Secondly – in our north-facing downstairs bedroom, we have sticky, tea-colored spots on the ceiling.

Shammon,

Thank you.

Based on your description of the initial issue it would seem as though water is coming into the basement from the concrete drive adjacent to it. This is fairly common in situations where the concrete cannot shed water away from the home in heavy rains. If this ..read more

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Preventing Dry Rot in My Log Cabin

Moisture in my log cabin is leading to dry rot. What can I do?

David,

Thanks for the inquiry and for the kind words – both are appreciated.

You seem to have the diagnosis correct based on what you told us.

Your northern log cabin, built on a concrete slab, is subject to large amounts of moisture in the spring and this is leading to dry rot conditions of the wood and possibly worse.

Concrete will conduct a huge amount of moisture into house air, ..read more

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