Volume 53, Issue 9

For me, Hurricane Isaac will forever be remembered as “My First Hurricane.” Something I had dreaded to some degree and, something I have learned I can deal with again. But, I won’t lie: it wasn’t fun. I’ll take a good old-fashioned blizzard any day!

What I found most nerve wracking about dealing with a (Category 1) hurricane was the anticipation; not knowing to what degree I would have to prepare. When I did a survey of the neighborhood, I found folks boarding up windows, tying down garbage can lids and piling up sandbags but by no means was there a consistent approach to protection. I mean, take a look at the picture below: wouldn’t that business owner also be concerned about breaking glass, possibly even moreso than street flooding? How am I to know, when I haven’t done this before, what needs to be done to protect MY property?

Well, I’ll tell you that I closed all my shutters, tried to fix the weatherstripping on my leaky patio doors and moved valuable things away from walls with windows. Of course, I prepped my pantry and refrigerator for the inevitable power outage and made sure I had candles and flashlights on hand. All of these efforts proved worthwhile.

However… the one thing I never thought I would have to do?

Take the batteries out of my smoke detectors *before* the power goes out in the middle of the night and you can’t see what you’re doing and you’ve only been sleeping a couple hours at a time because you’re not sure if that bang on your roof, and then subsequently on the neighbor’s roof, was a piece of wind-driven debris big enough to cause a hole, or if all the creaking and shaking will amount to a collapse or why there is water coming in through windows you thought you adequately sealed up with every kind of spray foam under the sun?!? All four smoke detectors beeping loudly, and not necessarily in sync, was nothing short of painful.

<insert sigh here>

I hope all of you fared well during the storm! And, if you have any handy tips, products or protection methods you’ve discovered over the years, please pass them along… hurricane season isn’t over (is it?)!

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Volume 52, Issue 10

Since I wrote about my drafty home in last month’s post, I’ve gotten a few requests to talk about the measures I’m taking to improve energy efficiency! You may recall that our energy consultant was unable to establish a pressure differential in our house such that an effective measurement of air flow could be taken. What I didn’t mention is that while the consultant was performing her blower door test, we walked around the house and felt wind (yes, wind) coming through just about every little hole and fissure in the house. Not surprisingly, it was recommended that we seal just about every little hole and fissure in hopes that less energy would, literally, get thrown out the window. These include:

  • Gaps between window frames and window units.
  • Holes in the mortar joints in our fi replace(s).
  • Gaps between electrical junction boxes and drywall.
  • Gaps between plumbing piping and drywall and/or gaps between plumbing piping and the floor.

Lack of proper weatherstripping was a key factor in the blower door test failure; many of the double hung windows have large gaps between the upper and lower sashes and the wood has shrunken to such a degree that the sashes just aren’t tight fits. A great resource for retrofit weatherstripping can found be found by going to page 70 in this PDF.

Additionally, because one can see daylight through some of the cracks in our wood floors, it was recommended that we insulate either by way of spray foam between floor joists or by securing rigid insulation, continuously, across the bottom of all the floor joists (the latter accouting for thermal breaks and ease of installation).

Needless to say, I’ve been doing lots of climbing on ladders and lots of poking and prodding. Turns out, there is an art to installing spray foam sealant and a variety of brands and types with which to experiment (some expanding far more than others). That said, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there is another art to energy savings:  Spend less on cooling your home by not setting the thermostat so low!

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My personal preference is DAPTex.