Why isn’t the attic dry?

“Three years ago, at the end of winter, I added insulation and ventilation to my attic.  The following winter water stains appeared in several ceiling areas around my house. I thought I had a roof leak. While a roofer was out measuring for replacement shingles, he opened the attic hatch and water water dripped on his head. He told me that my attic is wet inside because of a lack of attic ventilation. He tore off all of the shingles and replaced a bunch of rotten decking. When I opened the attic hatch this last winter even more water was dripping. And mold is growing again. Why isn’t the attic dry?”

The MYTH is that adding attic vents will dry out an attic so mold won’t grow.

FACTS: The cause of all wet attics is water vapor leaking from the living space up into the attic. The solution to all wet attic conditions is source control. Unlike other firms, FHP provides a series of performance test standards so that it knows when an installer has completed air sealing work. Testing to standards is critical to verify an installers’ successful efforts.

Why is upstairs so uncomfortable?

“The upstairs of my home is uncomfortable. In the summer it is unbearably hot and in the winter it is drafty and freezing! We changed out windows and insulated. When that didn’t work we called a heating contractor, but his solution did not help either.”

The MYTH is that any one of these contractors can reliably provide solutions to correct this homeowner’s comfort concerns.

FACTS: The cause of virtually all discomfort issues is air leakage, far beyond leaky windows. When a building shell leaks air, contractors have an uphill battle to successfully condition air. A building shell has to contain air before it can be evenly heat or cool it. Unlike other firms, FHP uses long established performance testing standards that include and exceed those found in our state’s building codes to verify successful work.

Why do I have ice dams?

“A huge ice dam caused a roof leak that led to the ceiling falling on the grand piano. The roofer installed ice and water shield. The insulator put in more insulation and vents. But icicles got so big that they backed up and water leaked into the house.”

The MYTH is that these contractors know how to reliably stop ice dams that cause damage.

FACTS: The cause ice dams is heat loss. The solution is to create effective air barriers first and then effectively insulate the attic. None of the solutions provided by the contractors above shows they understand basic physics. FHP performance tests to standards to verify effective air sealing work.

Why so much condensation on my windows? 

“My windows sweat all day long in my new house. Mold is beginning to grow. While I have vinyl windows and there is not wood to rot, the mold growth can’t be good for indoor air quality. My builder told me to wipe down the windows. That can’t be the answer, right?”

The MYTH is that wiping down windows is a reasonable thing to ask a homeowner to do.

FACTS: The cause is a glass surface that gets cold enough to reach the dew point of the moisture in the air next to it. The solution, to significantly reduce if not eliminate condensation, is to either warm the surface or reduce the relative humidity in the home’s air. Offering the solution to wipe down windows shows that this builder doesn’t understand basic physics. FHP searches for sources of moisture, determines the R-value of the window, performance tests the building shell to analyze the air exchanges in a house, and considers the number of occupants when designing effective ways to dry windows.

Why does the house smell smoky? 

“I can’t stand the smoky odor in my house. It comes in during the summer months. I’m not even burning a fire. The chimney guy installed a ‘wind resistant’ chimney cap, but I still get the odor.”

The MYTH is that the wind is responsible for the odor.

FACTS: The cause of a smoky odor in the house can be for a number of reasons, but underlying all of them is that the air pressure in the house is lower at the fireplace opening than the outside. This can happen from any number of reasons. The fact that the chimney company placed a wind arrester at the top of the chimney indicates they have a limited understanding of the physics air and heat flows at play. FHP uses a sophisticated set of air pressure protocols to determine Worst Case Depressurization and what it is about the house that it falls into an air pressure condition that sucks air down the flue.