A case of, “Let’s embarrass the home inspector!”
Some stories are worth telling even if it does have to come at one’s own expense.
Years ago, we remodeled our kitchen. In the process, the range was relocated to the other side of the kitchen. This meant that the old vent pipe from the range hood had to be abandoned. The pipe was disconnected at the ceiling in a space above the stairs behind where the hood used to be.
I stuffed the pipe with insulation (or at least I would like to assume I did) figuring that the pipe and roof cap would get removed when the roof was replaced.
At some point I noticed there was a lot of dust collecting around the edges of the cabinet door to this space above the stairs.
I knew what the dust meant and more or less ignored it figuring the vent was still functioning a bit–air moving through the insulation.
In the context of the recent window replacement project, I had some work to do on the roof and decided that I would get rid of the old vent cap and pipe in the process.
When I pulled off the roof cap and looked down the pipe I was surprised to see—nothing! No insulation in the pipe. This pipe had been acting like a chimney since the kitchen was remodeled. Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!
It is by-passes like this that can amount to higher energy costs and work against the huge amounts of insulation that had been added to the attic space. It is really no different than leaving the damper open on your fireplace. The dust in the screen of the old cap is testament to how it has been cleaning the air as I attempted to heat up all outdoors.
You too can look for the signs of these types of air by-passes, and eliminate them to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of your home. Here is a partial list of indicators. Look for dust and discoloration like that in the picture above, around:entryway doors, windows, fireplace screens, attic access hatches, crawl space hatches, ceiling light fixtures, light switches, receptacles, along baseboards, along the run of stairs, around the edges of floor registers, skylights, or anywhere else where air sealing has not been complete.
I guess it is a case of better late than never.
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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