Archive for the ‘Heating & Cooling’ Category

2012-2013 long range weather forecast

Last winter was the fourth warmest for the contiguous 48 since record keeping began in 1895, with 24 states experiencing below-normal precipitation. In fact, California experienced its second driest winter ever. In only 10 states—chiefly across the nation’s midsection— was winter precipitation above normal.

The situation became critical this past spring and summer with broiling hot temperatures across much of the country and the most severe drought conditions the nation has seen in more than 50 years.

For the coming season, we’re predicting that winter will return to some – but not all – areas. We think it will be a “winter of contraries, as if Old Man Winter were cutting the country in half. The eastern half of the country will see plenty of cold and snow. The western half will experience relatively warm and dry condition. In other words, as in the political arena, the climate this winter will render us a nation divided.

We predict that real winter weather will return to areas from the Great Lakes into the Northeast. Most eastern states – as far south as the Gulf Coast – will see snowier than normal conditions and cooler temperatures.

We are “red flagging” February 12–15 and March 20–23 for major coastal storms along the Atlantic seaboard; storms bringing strong winds and heavy precipitation.

But on the other side of the country, winter will continue its hiatus for another year. The forecast for west of the Continental Divide – the Pacific Northwest, desert Southwest, Pacific Coast – calls for mild temperatures and below-normal precipitation.

Conserving Energy

About 54 percent of the energy used in homes goes into heating and cooling. Obviously, this is where you can make the biggest savings on energy costs.

Fortunately, there are many quick and inexpensive ways to save energy in your home. You don’t have to be a master mechanic or even a skilled do-it-yourselfer.

All it takes is a small amount of time, a few tools that you probably already own-and some products from your hardware or home center retailer.

Inside this document you will find information about:

  • Materials and Installation Techniques
  • Insulation
  • Storm Windows
  • Cold Weather Energy Savers
  • Hot Weather Energy Savers
  • Year-Round Energy Savers
  • Kitchen, Laundry and Bath
  • Other Living Areas

MATERIALS AND INSTALLATION TECHNIQUES

Thermostats

  • To save money on your heating bill, you may want to turn your thermostat back to 60 degrees or 55 degrees at night. A convenient way to be sure you do this each night is to install a clock thermostat. It automatically turns your thermostat down every night, then turns it up in the morning before you get up. You won’t be uncomfortable with the temperature-or with your heating bill.

   
   

Caulking and Weatherstripping

  • Caulking and weatherstripping come in a variety of qualities, costs, and configurations. You should buy the best quality materials available whenever possible. The more quality materials are the most durable and are the best money savers. They perform better and don’t need to be replaced as often. Check below for a brief description of the most commonly available materials.

Caulking Compounds

  • Not very durable but lowest in cost: oil-or resin-based.
  • More durable and more expensive: latex, butyl or polyvinyl.
  • Most durable and most expensive: elastomeric base.

Filler

  • Materials used to fill extra-wide cracks: expanding foam, glass fiber, caulking cotton. Apply caulking compound AFTER using filler.

Installation

  • Apply caulking outside around window and door frames (see first image at top) and wherever else two different materials or parts of the house meet. With a little practice, pushing the caulking gun instead of pulling it can result in a better, more professional looking caulking job.

Weatherstripping

  • Inexpensive, easy to install, not very durable: felt or foam strip.
  • More expensive, easy to install durable: molded vinyl (with or without various backings).
  • Most expensive, very difficult to install, excellent weather seal, durable: interlocking metal channels (see image below).

  • Apply weatherstripping around the perimeter of all exterior doors and on the inside of all window sashes.
  • During the weatherstripping process, check to see if the putty on your windows needs replacing. Cutting down on all drafts will make your house much more comfortable year round.
   

INSULATION

  • Several kinds of insulation are available to homeowners. Kinds that are easily installed by the do-it-yourselfer are batts, blankets, and loose fill. Some batts and blankets now come with a thin plastic wrap to prevent some of the discomfort that comes with handling insulation. Foamed-in-plastic is usually installed by a contractor because special equipment is used. If your house has a flat roof or a mansard roof, or if your attic or basement area is otherwise restricted, installing will be difficult and you may need to hire a contractor.

Batt or Blanket

  • This type of insulation is usually made of glass fiber or rock wool. Batts come in packs of several pieces cut to 4′ or 8′ lengths; blankets come in rolls of varying lengths. Both are sold in widths of 15″ or 23″ to fit conventional framing spaces and in thicknesses of 1″ to 7″. Batts and blankets are available with or without vapor barriers.

Loose Fill

  • Loose fill insulation is made from glass fiber, rock wool, treated cellulose, vermiculite, or perlite, and does not come with a vapor barrier. Loose fill tends to settle in time. Rock wool should meet Federal Specification HH-I-1030A.
  • Cellulose is made from recycled newspaper and has a high insulative value. Cellulose must be properly treated to be fire-resistant. Two specifications that certify that cellulose is fire-resistant are: Federal Specification HH-I-515C and Underwriters Laboratories Classification listing Type II 26 through 50.

Foam

  • You can purchase cellular plastic products as either prefoamed sheets or batts, or they may be foamed in place by contractors using specialized equipment. The insulating efficiency varies for foams made of different materials (polystyrene, polyurethane, urea-formaldehyde, and others). Discuss these types with your retailer to determine which is the best for you.
  • Foams possess other properties that may affect its long-term insulating value, such as moisture retention, shrinkage, spontaneous decomposition, and vermin resistance.
  • Foams also burn, producing smoke and poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide. You can reduce these hazards by following the recommended installation procedures for each type of foam. Foam that is properly installed has a higher insulating value.

INSTALLATION

Attics

  • To insulate an attic floor where there is no existing insulation, lay batts or blankets or pour loose fill between the joists. So that moisture from the living areas of your home does not penetrate the insulation and reduce its effectiveness, you must place a vapor barrier between the heated or air-conditioned part of your house and your attic.
  • Batts and blankets are available with a vapor barrier on one side. To install, place the vapor barrier face-down toward the heated or air-conditioned portion of your home. If you are using loose fill, you will have to install your own vapor barrier. Staple or tack a plastic sheet or polyethylene film under the area where you are planning to pour loose fill.
  • If some new insulation already exists and you are adding a layer of new insulation on top of the old, it is important that there be no vapor barrier between the new and the old. If you must use insulation with a vapor barrier, remove the barrier before installation; you can use a knife to remove the barrier. Place the insulation with this side down. Before purchasing the additional insulation you need, measure the thickness that your attic will accommodate. Additional batts or blankets may not fit! If you try to squeeze insulation in, you’ll reduce its effectiveness. Instead, add insulation with a higher R-value per inch.
  • Do not insulate on top of recessed lighting fixtures or heat-producing equipment. Keep the insulation at least 3″ away from the sides of these types of fixtures. Also, do not cover the eave vents with insulation. Be sure that there is sufficient attic ventilation to allow moisture to escape. There are special foam and plastic inserts that fit between the roof rafters to help insure proper ventilation.

Floors

  • To insulate the floor above your basement or crawl space, push batts or blankets between the floor joists from below with the vapor barrier facing up toward the heated or air conditioned part of your home. If there is no vapor barrier, install a plastic sheet against the underside of your floor (see image above).
  • To support the insulation, you can use insulation supports. These wire rods bend when you push them between the floor joists and they lock themselves into place. Another method is to lace wire back and forth under the insulation (see image above). Provide adequate ventilation below the floor in the crawl space to allow moisture to escape.

STORM WINDOWS

  • Storm windows vary widely in design, durability, ease of use and cost. They range from temporary plastic sheets to custom-made permanent installation, but basically there are two kinds: single and combination.

Single Storm Windows

  • Single storm windows can be made of plastic sheet, glass, or rigid plastic. Plastic sheet is fairly inexpensive initially, but it is easily damaged and must be replaced often. Single glass or rigid plastic is more durable and can be used year after year.

Combination Storm Windows

  • These installations consist of storm windows and screens and are intended to be fixed permanently over double-hung windows. Combination windows come in a variety of finishes and qualities. Shop around for good quality.

Installation

  • You can make and install your own single storm windows. For plastic sheets there are molded plastic strips, double sided tapes and wood strips to attach the plastic to the outer edge of the frame. Do-it-yourself aluminum molding kits and rigid plastic sheets and glass are available from your local hardware store or home center, if you want to make your own. Combination storm windows can be installed by a contractor who will do the measuring for you-or you can do the job yourself if you are handy.

COLD WEATHER ENERGY SAVERS

  • Keep drapes and shades open in sunny windows; close them at night.
  • An automatic garage door operator encourages you to shut the door quickly, thereby saving fuel-even in unheated garages-by preventing cold from reaching the inside walls.
  • Electric heat tapes on water pipes that run through unheated areas prevent heat loss from cooling or freezing.
  • Use a humidifier. Cooler indoor temperatures are more comfortable with the proper amount of humidity-about 40-50%.
  • Change furnace filters regularly. A dirty filter impedes air flow and makes your furnace work longer and harder. Check the filter at least once a month.
  • Be sure to keep the damper closed on your fireplace when it’s not in use. Consider installing a glass-door fireplace to keep heat from escaping up the chimney.
  • Use portable electric heaters for seldom-used rooms or to warm up part of a large, cold room.

  • Clean air conditioning filters regularly. Replace immediately when worn out. Keep coils or fins of air-conditioning units free of dust, lint, etc.
  • Deflect daytime sun with awnings on windows or draw draperies and pull shades on sunny windows.
  • Use an attic ventilating fan instead of air conditioning. They do a remarkably good job of keeping air circulating. A 1,400-square-foot attic should have at least 5 square feet of ventilation.
  • Install a turbine ventilator on the roof to pull hot air out of the attic.
  • Run air conditioners only on really hot days.
  • Are you using more light in certain situations than is needed? Each watt of lighting requires the expenditure of 1/2 watt of air-conditioning power.
  • Combine circulating fans with room air conditioners for best air distribution throughout the house.

YEAR-ROUND ENERGY SAVERS

  • Turn off furnace pilot lights during the summer, but check with the gas company first.
  • Use fluorescent lights where possible. A 25-watt fluorescent will provide light equal to a 100-watt incandescent.
  • Replace leaky faucets; repair all water-wasting fixtures. A dripping hot water faucet makes a hot water heater keep working.
  • Utilize working shutters, interior or exterior, to control heat gain or loss.
  • Close off unused rooms.

KITCHEN, LAUNDRY, AND BATH

  • Insulate your hot water storage tank and piping. Kits are available.
  • Clean the heat reflector below the hot water heating element. It will reflect heat better.
  • Install a flow-restrictor pipe to the shower head. This easy-to-install device can save a considerable amount of hot water. It’s inexpensive, threads into the pipe and restricts the flow of water by several gallons of water per minute.
  • Don’t overload appliances that use hot water, such as clothes and dishwashers. The same rule applies to clothes dryers; use drying racks or clotheslines when possible.
  • Use warm or cold water (rather than hot) whenever possible.
  • Keep the thermostat on the hot water heater at the lowest setting possible to maintain a comfortable water temperature.
  • Try to use high-energy appliances-washer, dryer, electric ovens-in non-peak periods (early morning or late evening).
  • Try energy-efficient cooking-flat-bottom pans, clean burner reflectors, pressure cooker, preparing several foods in the oven at the same time; use small appliances for small cooking jobs.
  • Check energy efficient ratings (EER) of appliances and buy the most efficient-10 rating is excellent, 8 or 9 is good.

OTHER LIVING AREAS

  • Install a timer to control the length of time outdoor lights are used, even for security lights.
  • Remember to turn off shop lights, soldering irons and all bench heating devices as quickly as possible.
  • Take advantage of color if reroofing. Darker colors that absorb more light should be used in cold climates; light colors that reflect light should be used in moderate and warm climates.
  • Check windows and frames-if loose, install new window channels or complete new windows.
  • Evaluate doors-are they weather-tight? If you don’t have or want storm doors, are entrance doors insulated? Solid doors should have an insulated core; glass panels in doors should be insulated glass.
  • Seal and insulate pipes and ductwork.

Heat-Saving Items

It has been estimated that 90 percent of the heat generated by a conventional masonry fireplace goes up the chimney. To help make fireplaces more energy efficient, accessory items recover lost heat and return it to the room.

HEAT-RECOVERY SYSTEMS

One type of heat-recovery system looks like a glass fireplace enclosure but actually generates heat through convection. A mini radiator in the hood of the enclosure and a heat exchanger behind and above the fire can generate 10,000 BTUs of heat every hour. Further, heat transferred through the unit’s double paned glass doors and frame develops an additional 5,000 BTUs each hour. It requires no electricity or gas for operation and is an easy do-it-yourself installation.

Another type of recovery system combines a grate and heat exchanger to re-circulate fireplace heat back into the room. It can be adjusted to fit standard size fireplace openings. These units can also be used with glass enclosures.

Heating Requirements
Estimated Wattage Required To Raise Room Temperature One Degree*
Floor Area Sq. Ft. Room Conditions
A B C
50 7 10 36
100 14 20 69
150 22 30 103
200 29 40 138
250 36 50 172
300 43 60 204
350 50 70 241
400 57 80 275
450 65 90 310
500 72 100 344
ROOM CONDITIONS (based on 8 ft. ceiling)
(A) Interior Room-little or no outside exposure.
(B) Room with average door and window area-well insulated.
(C) Isolated Rooms-cabins, watch houses-no insulation.
*Because of varying climate, building and insulation conditions, this chart is intended only as a guide to heating requirements.

TUBE GRATES

Tube grates are made of a series of U-shaped tubes fastened together; they replace conventional grates and andirons. The fire is built on the lower curve of the tube grate, just as it would be built in a standard grate or on andirons.

The purpose of the tube grate is to pull room air into the bottom tube opening, move it around and over the fire-warming the air as it goes-and shoot it back into the room. This is accomplished through gravity or with an electric motor to force the warm air back into the room. It should keep the room air from being drawn up the chimney and, when combined with glass doors, the tube grate can be quite effective.

HEAT EXTRACTORS

Heat extractors are made for both fireplaces and wood-burning stoves, and both kinds operate on much the same principle. Their purpose is to extract additional heat from flue gases beyond what would normally come from the stovepipe or chimney.

Some operate naturally using radiation or convection; others have an electric blower to force out more heat.

Since it must be mounted on the stovepipe or chimney, installing a heat extractor on an existing fireplace may be a major undertaking, unless the fireplace has an exposed chimney.

A heat extractor can pull a tremendous amount of heat from a fireplace chimney, but as it does so it cools the flue gases and reduces the effectiveness of the draft. Since this could cause smoking in a fireplace, it would be wise to put a good heat extractor on a chimney with more capacity than is necessary for the size of the fireplace.

The fact that heat extractors cool the flue gases may cause them to work against the efficiency of a good wood-burning stove. As the flue gases cool, combustion is reduced and the stove itself gives off less heat.

Ease of cleaning a heat extractor is another factor. It collects deposits from wood smoke which affect the unit’s efficiency. Some extractors have a removable plate that allows easy access for cleaning the tubes; others require partial disassembly, which can be inconvenient and messy.

FIREPLACE INSERTS

Fireplace inserts are airtight fireboxes that can be inserted into existing fireplaces to provide some of the advantages of a wood-burning stove. Most draw air from the room, circulate it around the insert and return warmed air to the room. Some units have blowers to help distribute the heat.

Some fireplace inserts have a UL listing for use in factory built fireplaces. These zero clearance inserts can extend to the fireplace facing.

These units are specified for use with individual manufacturer models. Manufacturer literature should be checked for correct use.

Gas fireplace inserts are similar to un-vented gas heaters. They can be used in masonry fireplaces as infrared burners to radiate heat. Quality features include oxygen depletion sensor and flame-failure gas shutoff.

GLASS ENCLOSURES

Glass enclosures also help improve fireplace performance. They control air intake, which makes the wood burn more slowly and retains more heat in the firebox; at the same time, the fireplace pulls less warm air from the house.

Glass enclosures can also mean the fire can be left unattended. With doors shut, the fire safely extinguishes itself. The glass doors also permit a full, clear view of the fire while they keep smoke and sparks out of the room.

Most enclosures have a built-in draft at the base that directs air to the bottom of the fireplace opening so homeowners can easily start and control the fire.

Glass enclosures, which fit most standard size fireplaces, mount securely against the face of the fire place, overlapping the opening. In many cases, the enclosure comes fully assembled so the homeowner can install it in minutes.

Other features available on some models include:

  • Safety locks to ensure that the doors will not open accidentally from the impact of a falling log or gusty downdraft.
  • Removable doors for easy cleaning.
  • Permanently attached curtain screen.
  • Outside side-pull handles to eliminate reaching into the heat of the fire to close the doors.
  • Special insert to adapt the enclosure to an arched fireplace.
  • Base risers to elevate the enclosure to fit nonstandard fireplaces.

Gas, Smoke, and Fire Protection

DETECTORS

Gas, smoke and fire detectors are common residential safety products. Many municipal building codes require smoke or fire detectors in multifamily dwellings, in new construction, and, in some cases, in existing single-family homes.

There are three common types of detectors: thermal, ionization and photoelectric. Thermal detectors are activated by heat; ionization responds to smoke and gas particles from a flaming fire; and photoelectric responds to smoke from a smoldering fire.

Here’s how each of the three kinds of detectors works:

Thermal: These detectors, used primarily by large commercial or industrial firms, sound only when the temperature rises to a certain level. They are not nearly as safe as the ionization and photoelectric types in that the fire must be more intense before the thermal unit will sound.

However, they might be the best choice for an area where smoke or heat is normally present and might trigger a false alarm, such as near a cooking stove.

Ionization: Measures the changes in electric current caused by invisible particles ionized in the heat of combustion. They use a non-harmful radioactive source (Americium 241) to transform the air inside them into a conductor of electric current. A small current passes through this “ionized” air. When smoke particles enter the detector, they impede the flow of current. An alarm is programmed to sound when the current gets too low. Ionization detectors respond particularly well to the “smoke” caused by a flaming fire. Since they require very little power, they are effectively powered by household batteries and can be placed almost anywhere in a house (and will work even during a power failure).

These detectors are typically insensitive to smoke from a smoldering fire. And battery-powered models must have their batteries replaced at periodic intervals.

Photoelectric: Involves a small lamp adjusted to direct a narrow light beam across the detection chamber. Next to this light source, but hidden from direct exposure to the beam, is a light-sensitive photocell. Smoke entering the detection chamber scatters the light beam reflecting it in all directions. Some of this reflected light is picked up by the photocell which, at a preset level, triggers the alarm.

A typical photoelectric detector is relatively sensitive to smoke from a smoldering fire (the greatest cause of death in home fires), but reacts slowly to flaming fires-almost opposite of the ionization model.

Most photoelectric models require connection to an electrical outlet. Light bulbs must be replaced every few years.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The Fire Protection Association recommends detectors in every room in the house. The simplest rule for locating a basic smoke detector is mount it between the bedrooms and the rest of the house, but closer to the bedrooms. It is better, however, to install multiple detectors and put one near each sleeping area. In multilevel homes, install one on each level. The basement ceiling, near the steps, is a good location for extra protection. But for the best protection, locate a detector in each bedroom. Detectors have additional features to help in warning the family of fire danger and to help them escape from the house. Some are equipped with lights and are suggested for halls and stairways and any location leading to doors or windows. The idea is to light the escape route. Others have loud sirens to awaken sleeping persons or extra loud horns for use in homes where there are persons with hearing impairment.

Install each detector on the ceiling or on walls between 6″ and 12″ below the ceiling. Do not put it within 6″ of where the wall and ceiling meet on either surface. This is dead air space with little circulation. Do not mount a detector in front of an air supply or return duct.

RADON DETECTORS

Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that is formed wherever there is uranium-an element present throughout the earth’s crust. Since it is a gas, radon is mobile and poses little health risk if it makes its way to open air. It dissipates quickly in open areas, but if radon seeps into a house, it can collect in hazardous concentrations.

Inhaling radon or its decay products introduces radioactivity into the body-posing serious health hazards. There is no way to predict radon’s presence or concentration through geological studies. One house can have low radon levels, while another located next to it may have high concentrations.

In many homes, radon measurements are made in the basement, since radon enters from the earth beneath the foundation.

There are several types of detectors capable of conducting radon tests.

Alpha-track devices consist of a small sheet of polycarbonate plastic. Alpha particles that strike the plastic cause microscopic pockmarks. After an exposure period, users mail the detector to a lab. The lab’s count of the pockmarks gives a direct measure of the mean radon concentration.

Other types include electret ion chamber, continuous monitor and charcoal liquid scintillation. A short-term test will take from two to 90 days depending on the detection device chosen. Longer tests-usually with electret or alpha-track detectors-will give a more accurate reading of average radon exposure.

Be sure your radon kits meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s requirements or are state certified. The kit packaging will tell you if it’s EPA certified.

Remember that radon levels can change greatly, and a number of factors, such as frequency of opening and closing windows, can affect radon measurements. In addition, determining if radon is a health threat depends upon factors such as measurable radon levels and the number of hours a day a home is occupied.

You can be reassured that simple measures-such as improving basement ventilation-can eliminate a radon problem. Other solutions used in combination with the above methods include sealing cracks and holes in the foundation and concrete floors; using a fan to keep the house pressurized; and installing a heat-recovery ventilator while using the heated or cooled air being exhausted to warm or cool the incoming air.

CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, deadly gas that poses a potentially deadly health risk to people. Carbon monoxide can be emitted by gas or oil furnaces, dryers, refrigerators, water and space heaters, fireplaces, wood stoves and gas ranges.

CO poisoning is difficult to diagnose since the symptoms-headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizzy spells-are similar to ailments such as the flu.

Battery-powered CO detectors are available that can detect levels as low as .01 percent, and will operate even in the event of a power failure. They should be placed near the sleeping area, and perhaps also near the home’s heating source. Make sure the CO detectors you purchase have the UL seal, which guarantees the product has passed safety and accuracy tests.

FIRE EXTINGUISHERS

When selling fire extinguishers, you should find out where the extinguisher is likely to be used and what kind of fire may be involved . . . Class A, B, C or D fire.

Class A fires – the most common types . . . ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, cloth, rubber and many plastics.

Class B fires – flammable liquids, gases and greases.

Class C fires – energized electrical equipment or wiring where the electric non-conductivity of the extinguishing agent is important. However, when the equipment or wiring is de-energized, remaining combustion is Class A or B and extinguishers for those fires may be safely used.

Class D fires – combustible metals such as magnesium, titanium, zirconium, sodium and potassium. You will not often be called upon to supply extinguishers for Class D fires.

EXTINGUISHER RATINGS

The most reliable guide to the fire-killing ability of an extinguisher is the rating assigned it by Underwriters’ Laboratories, Inc., which appears on the equipment nameplate. Size alone is not a satisfactory measure of extinguisher effectiveness.

Each rating consists of one or more numbers and letters. The letter tells the class of fire the extinguishing agent is designed for. The number indicates approximate relative extinguishing potential. For example, an extinguisher rated 4A is capable of putting out twice as much burning material as one rated 2A. (The “A” means Class A.)

The number used for Class B extinguishers also shows the square-foot area of a deep-layer flammable liquid fire which a trained operator can put out. Class C extinguishers have no “C” commercial rating.

TYPES OF EXTINGUISHERS

Water-type extinguisher – Class A fires. Includes water, antifreeze, soda-acid, wetting agent and loaded-stream extinguishers.

Carbon dioxide extinguisher – Class B and C fires. Has limited range and is affected by draft and wind.

Dry-chemical extinguisher – Class B and C fires. Includes sodium and potassium bicarbonate base agents. Dry-chemical extinguishers marked general-purpose or multipurpose can be used on Class A, B and C fires.

Foam extinguisher – Class A and B fires. Not effective on flammable liquids and gases escaping under pressure.

Halon extinguisher – Recommended for Class B and C fires but not for Class A fires in paper, wood and cloth. Halon extinguishers are lighter, more compact and more effective than carbon dioxide and will not stop an engine from running. Halon is colorless, odorless and will not damage engine parts, electrical systems or other sensitive equipment and leaves no residue.

Halon 1211 is a gas found in small hand extinguishers and pressurized with nitrogen. Halon 1301 is a vapor form, somewhat less toxic and found in fixed commercial and marine applications. Halon extinguishers are the most expensive of the types listed here.

A number of extinguishers are labeled “all purpose” or “multipurpose.” They use a fine powder of ammonium phosphate that is effective against all types of fire. They are a logical choice, but not as efficient at extinguishing as the rated units can be for specific types of fires.

EXTINGUISHER PLACEMENT

One fire extinguisher is not enough protection for a home. Four would provide good protection in a three-bedroom home with a basement and garage-one near the bedrooms, one for the basement, one for the garage and one for the kitchen.

It is recommended that multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher units be used throughout a house as protection against all types of fires.

Do not mount a fire extinguisher too close to a place fire might occur. For example: In the kitchen, do not mount it close to the stove. In the basement, the best place is at the top of the stairs unless circumstances demand that it be near a workshop area. You should not risk reaching into a fire or going into a burning area to get a fire extinguisher.

Also use caution to fight only minor fires. In case of a serious blaze, all persons should immediately leave the house. Notify the fire department from a neighbor’s home or an alarm box.

HOME SAFES

People buy safes to protect documents and valuables from fire and theft. When you sell a home safe, find out what the customer wants to protect. Although some fire safes offer sufficient security for valuables, not all maximum security safes have maximum fire protection.

Fire safes designed for home use should at least provide protection for the contents for up to one-half hour at 1550 degrees F; light commercial safes should provide the same protection for up to two hours.

According to Underwriters Laboratories’ standards, a fire safe should retain an inside temperature below 350 degrees F (the temperature at which paper chars) for an hour or more. This rating also includes requirements that the safe be resistant to rupture or explosion at these temperatures. The fire rating must appear on the safe. The National Fire Prevention Association has found that a fire-rated safe performs four times better than a non-rated safe in a fire.

Security of a safe, beyond its fire protection, comes from a combination of retractable and stationary bolts that prevents the safe door from being removed by knocking off or removing the hinges.

Besides fire-rated safes, there are also fire-rated security chests and files in a variety of sizes with key locks and interior organizational features.

There are several locking mechanisms for safes, the most common being a dial combination of three or four digits with a handle or latch for retracting the bolts.

Additional security can be provided if the safe also has a built-in key lock that functions independently of the dial combination. This kind of safe also permits “key only” access when necessary and provides double-lock security at other times.

Another form of locking mechanism is an electronic digital lock in which the dial combination is replaced by a four-digit, changeable, pushbutton combination. The advantage is faster and easier access to the contents without sacrificing overall security.

In addition to freestanding safes, there are safes that can be mounted in walls or sunk into concrete floors. There are also vault doors that can be installed inside existing closet doors to turn a standard closet into a vault. However, it should be noted that these safes are not fire rated.

Saving Money with Insulation

Here are tips and instructions on how to insulate your home. Take a few minutes to read them thoroughly. Following these instructions can save you time and effort.

In this document you will find information about:

  • How Insulating Your Home Saves Money
  • Types of Insulation
  • How Much Insulation You Will Need
  • Spreading Loose-fill Insulating Materials
  • Applying Insulation in Blanket Form
  • Insulating Walls

HOW INSULATING YOUR HOME SAVES MONEY

  • Heating and cooling your home accounts for about 50 percent to 70 percent of the energy used in your home. Unless your home was built as an energy-efficient home, adding insulation will probably reduce your utility bills. Even a small amount of insulation-if properly installed-can reduce energy costs dramatically.
  • You should insulate all areas of your home. Insulation priorities include your attic, including the attic access door, under floors above unheated basements or crawl spaces, and on the edges of concrete slabs. Your options for insulating existing walls are somewhat limited. However, if you are remodeling or residing your home, use the amounts of insulation recommended for new construction. This image shows you where to insulate and also contains the range of recommended R-values for each of those areas in your house. The R-value changes because of the type of heat you use and where you live. It also changes between new and existing homes. To find the recommended R-value for the area of the country you live in, contact your local electric company or gas company. You can also find the recommended R-value by zip code and heat source at the Department of Energy Web site, www.eren.doe.gov.
  • It’s interesting to note that the greatest energy savings come from the first inch of insulation installed. You can add more insulation to increase your savings, but a small amount of insulation is almost a must for your home to be comfortable. Keep in mind that for insulation to work properly the air spaces in the insulation must be maintained. Packing too much insulation into an area will reduce the effectiveness of the insulation.
  • Savings from wall insulation are almost equal to those you’ll get from ceiling insulation.
  • You can further increase your energy savings, up to 10 percent, by plugging any air leaks prior to insulating. Obvious air leaks can be found around doors, windows, fireplaces and chimneys. Some not-so-obvious air leaks can be found around electrical switches and outlets, pull-down attic stairs, pipes, and behind bathtub and shower stall units. These leaks are often much greater than the obvious ones. However, taking care of these leaks alone cannot do the job-you must also have insulation.
   

TYPES OF INSULATION MATERIAL AVAILABLE

  • Most insulating materials are available in several common forms-loose-fill or spray-applied materials, blanket rolls, batts, boards and foil-faced paper, foam, film and cardboard. Each form is ideal for specific insulating jobs.
  • The type of insulation material you select for any job depends on how you intend to use it, how much you want to spend, and how easy it is to install.
  • The chart below provides a summary of the qualities and suggested uses for the basic types of insulation.
  • Study the chart carefully. Consider the advantages, disadvantages and instructions for using each type of material as outlined in the chart. This table should help you select the correct material for any insulation job.
  • Blanket and batt insulation is usually made from fiber glass or rock wool. It is sized to fit between studs, floor joists and ceiling joists. It comes both faced and unfaced. Faced means the batt or blanket has a cover such as paper or foil on one side. Unfaced means there is no cover. Some batts and blankets now come with a protective covering that reduces the “itchy feeling” you get when you work with insulation.
  • Rigid foam insulation is widely used on basement walls and on exterior walls. If rigid foam is used inside, it must be covered with gypsum board or other building code-approved material for fire safety reasons. When it is applied on the outside, it must be covered with a weatherproof facing. When using a foil-covered rigid foam, the foil must be away from the heated side of the wall to avoid a condensation problem.
TYPES OF INSULATION
Form Method of Installation Where Applicable Advantages
Blankets: Batts or Rolls; Fiber glass Rock wool Fitted between studs, joists, and beams All unfinished walls, floors and ceilings Do-it-yourself; Suited for standard stud and joist spacing, which is relatively free from obstructions
Loose-fill (blown-in) or Spray-applied; Rock wool; Fiberglass; Cellulose; Polyurethane foam Blown into place or spray applied by special equipment Enclosed existing wall cavities or open new wall cavities; Unfinished attic floors and hard-to-reach places Commonly used insulation for retrofits (adding insulation to existing finished areas); Good for irregularly shaped areas and around obstructions
Rigid Insulation; Extruded polystyrene foam (XPS); Expanded polystyrene foam (EPS or beadboard); Polyurethane foam; Polyisocyanurate foam Interior applications: Must be covered with 1/2″gypsum board or other building-code approved material for fire safety; Exterior applications: Must be covered with weather-proof facing Basement walls; Exterior walls under finishing (Some foam boards include a foil facing which will act as a vapor retarder. Please read the discussion about where to place, or not to place, a vapor retarder); Unvented low slope roofs High insulation value for relatively little thickness; Can block thermal short circuits when installed continuously over frames or joists
Reflective Systems; Foil-faced paper; Foil-faced polyethylene bubbles; Foil-faced plastic film; Foil-faced cardboard Foils, films or papers: Fitted between wood-frame studs, joists and beams Unfinished ceilings, walls, and floors Do-it-yourself; All suitable for framing at standard spacing. Bubble-form suitable if framing is irregular or if obstructions are presentt; effectiveness depends on spacing and heat flow direction
   

HOW MUCH INSULATION YOU WILL NEED

  • On a new home, find out what the recommended R-value is for the type of heat you are planning to use for the location of your new home. Again, local electric and gas companies can provide this information to you or you can contact the Department of Energy.
  • On an existing home it is a little more complicated, but not hard. First, you need to identify what type of insulation is currently in your home. It may differ by the various locations in your home. In your attic for example, you may find batt or blanket fiber glass over the top of loose-fill cellulose. You may also find multiple layers of batt or blanket insulation. Next, you need to measure the thickness of each of these different types of insulation at the different locations. To help you with this process, take a regular sheet of notebook paper and make four columns. Label the first column “Location,” the second column “Type Of Insulation,” the third column “Inches Thick” and the fourth column “R-value per Inch.”
  • The table below shows you the approximate R-value each inch of the various types of insulating materials provides. Use this chart to fill in the last column of your worksheet. One inch of fiber glass batts or blankets, for example, provides an approximate R-value of 3.2. To find the R-value of 4″ of fiberglass, multiply 4 x 3.2 to get an R-value of 12.8. Repeat this process of multiplying the number of inches thick and the R-value per inch of insulation for each area in your home. If you have two different types of insulation together, like our earlier example, find the R-value for each and then add them together.
R-VALUE
Insulation Type R-Value per inch thickness
Fiberglass blanket or batt 3.2
High-performance fiber glass blanket or batt 3.8
Loose-fill fiber glass 2.5
Loose-fill rock wool 2.8
Loose-fill cellulose 3.5
Perlite or vermilculite 2.7
Expanded polystyrene board 3.8
Extruded polystyrene board 4.8
Polyisocyanurate board, unfaced 5.8
Polyisocyanurate board, foil-faced 7.0
Spray polyurethane foam 5.9
  • Let’s use an example where we have 6″ of cellulose covered by 6″ of fiber glass batts in the attic. We take the R-value of cellulose, which is 3.5 and multiply it by 6 to get 21.0. We then take the R-value of fiberglass batts, which is 3.2 and multiply that by 6 to get 19.2. Since the insulation is layered one on top of the other, we add them together 21.0 + 19.2 to get 40.2.
  • If we live in a region where the recommended R-value is 38, we already have 40.2, so we do not need to add insulation. What happens though, if we live in a region that recommends 49-we need to add some insulation, but how much? That’s easy too! Take the recommended R-value, which is 49, and subtract what we have already, which is 40.2 (49 – 40.2 to get 8.8). We need to add an R-value of 8.8. The R-value of an inch of fiber glass batts is 3.2. Divide the amount we need to add, 8.8, by the R-value per inch, 3.2, to get 2.75. Batt and blanket insulation comes in several thicknesses. One of these is 3-1/2″. So one layer of 3-1/2″ fiber glass batt insulation added to what we have will give us a little more than what we need. It is always ok to add more insulation than is recommended. Just remember not to pack it too tightly because packing it can reduce its effectiveness.
   

SPREADING LOOSE-FILL INSULATING MATERIALS

  • Loose-fill insulating materials of rock wool, fiber glass or cellulose are commonly used for insulating attics. Vermiculite is not currently used for homes, but it may be found in older homes. It is best to install these materials with a plywood rake attached to a rake handle, making spreading much easier.
  • To make this type of rake, cut a scrap piece of plywood to the length of the space between the joists plus 4″ (see image below). The extra 4″ allows for an overhang on the joists.

  • Next decide how deep you plan to install the loose-fill material. For example, suppose you are planning to lay the loose-fill material to a depth of 3″ between the attic joists (see image above). Measure the depth in the space you plan to fill then saw the plywood rake as illustrated in this image. The rake should ride on the joist on either side and level the material off evenly to a depth of 3″. Attach a handle, making a handy tool that will save you hours of backbreaking labor and enable you to rake the material easily and evenly into otherwise unreachable corners (see image).
   

APPLYING INSULATION IN BLANKET FORM

  • Always apply blanket-type insulation with the vapor barrier facing the interior of your home. The vapor barrier should always be toward the source of heat in the winter (see image). Never place a vapor barrier between two layers of insulation. This can lead to a condensation problem and reduce the effectiveness of the insulation. Lay the blanket as close to the joists and floor as possible. Fill any gaps with loose-fill insulation or place another layer of blanket insulation across the previous layer.
  • Always place insulation on the outside of pipes or ducts (see image). This means the insulation should be between the outside wall and the pipes.

  • When using blanket insulation, always place the vapor barrier toward the heat source and insulation outside of any pipes.
  • Staple blanket insulation when laid between joists in the attic (see image). Most rolls of blanket insulation materials have flanges that can be stapled or tacked to the ceiling joists, as illustrated. Always keep the blanket as close to the joists and floor area as possible-fill any gaps with strips of insulation or loose-fill insulation.
  • Never allow blanket-type insulation to cut off the flow of air and stop proper ventilation in an attic (see image below). Blanket insulation should never block the air movement from the eave vents into the attic.
   

  • Proper ventilation in the attic is very important in any insulation job. Make provision for air to flow in and around the eave vents and to flow out through a ridge vent roof ventilator or through a ventilator on the end of the house (see first image below).
  • Blanket insulation without a vapor barrier can be wedged between existing ceiling joists (see second image below). Make sure the insulation comes to the top of the plate to avoid heat loss from the penetration of wind under the insulation. Failure to pay close attention to this detail can lead to a frost line forming on cold, windy days. It will form on the inside wall where the ceiling and walls come together.
  • There are special formed inserts made of foam or plastic designed to go up next to the roof between the rafters. They help with both the airflow and the frost line. Many of them are designed to be installed during new construction. But they can be installed in an existing roof with very little extra effort.
  • In some cases, it may be easier to apply the blanket between the rafters on the roof (see third image below). In this case, staple the blanket insulation directly to the rafters.
  • Repair any major tears or rips in the vapor barrier and insulation by adding additional vapor barrier and insulation to build up to the level on the normal insulation run.
  • Whether you apply the insulation to the attic roof or the floor, always double it back at the end for maximum efficiency (see fourth image below). Illustration A shows how the blanket of insulation material can be rolled at the end between the attic joists. Illustration B shows how the same material can be doubled back between the rafters of the roof.
 
   

INSULATING WALLS

  • If possible, lay blanket-type insulating material between the studs in the wall. If you’re using insulation blankets without a vapor barrier, they should be forced into the area between the studs. Then, place a polyethylene vapor barrier on the inside face of the wall. Staple the vapor barrier into place.
  • When building a new structure, insulate the full wall, including around the openings for doors and windows.
  • Use drywall with a foil back as a vapor barrier instead of polyethylene if it is more practical.
  • Blanket insulation material with a vapor barrier attached can be stapled into position.
  • When the blanket has a vapor barrier, take the time to staple or tack all sides, bottoms and tops. This increases the efficiency of the insulation.
  • Use scraps of insulation material to insulate all the cracks and crevices around doors and windows (see image). Then use scraps of vapor barrier to seal these areas. Staple the barrier in place.

Weatherproofing Your Home

Weatherproofing Your Home

The average house-even when well-insulated-contains cracks and gaps between building materials that add up to a hole about 14 inches square (see image below). In the winter, those gaps may make the house drafty and chilly. All year long, a leaky house not only wastes energy but can lead to water damage and provide a path for insects.

Inside this document you will find information about:

  • Weatherproofing Basics
  • Types of Caulking
  • Using Caulking
  • Types of Weatherstripping
  • Installing Weatherstripping

WEATHERPROOFING BASICS

  • In all the discussion of insulation and R-values, don’t forget that poor weatherproofing is often a more important source of discomfort, as well as high heating and cooling bills.
  • Some air leakage can be prevented during construction by using housewrap or getting a tight fit between framing members, for example. Once the house is built, however, the remaining gaps must be sealed. Gaps around doors and window sashes should be weatherstripped, and gaps between permanent building materials sealed with caulking.

   

TYPES OF CAULKING

  • A number of factors must be considered when choosing caulking. They include durability, flexibility, whether the caulk can be painted and, of course, price.
  • The most expensive caulk is not always the best product for every job, so you should carefully consider which product is appropriate to your situation. Read product labels and manufacturers’ literature, and ask your salesperson for his or her recommendation.
  • Here is a list of common caulks and their characteristics. Different types of caulking are designed for different applications, and quality can vary among different brands of the same type because of different formulations used.
  • Always read and follow the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Oil-Base Painter’s Caulk (1-2 yr. life) – Not very elastic. Dries out easily. Paintable after curing. Lowest cost.
  • Latex (3-10 yr. life) – Use mostly indoors. Goes on easily. Low elasticity. Sticks to porous surfaces only. Easy water cleanup. Low in cost. Paintable.
  • Butyl Rubber (3-10 yr. life) – High elasticity. Sticks to most surfaces. High moisture resistance. Flexible when cured. Most difficult to work with as it is very sticky.
  • Acrylic Latex (10 yr. life) – Good elasticity. Sticks to most surfaces. Reasonable moisture resistance. Paintable. Good for around doors and windows. May not be used below freezing.
  • Silicon-Latex Blend (20+ yr. life) – Good elasticity. Excellent weathering ability. Medium shrinkage. Adheres to most surfaces. Some cannot be painted. May not be used below freezing.
  • Silicone (20-50 yr. life) – Excellent elasticity. Sticks very well. Excellent moisture resistance. Needs solvent to clean. Strong odor possible while curing. Low shrinkage. Generally not paintable, but available in many colors. May not be used below freezing. May be applied to wood, asphalt or metal, but not vinyl or masonry.
  • Urethane (20-50 yr. life) – Excellent elasticity and adhesion. Excellent moisture resistance. Easy cleanup. Strong odor possible while curing. Low shrinkage. May not be used below freezing. May be applied to wood, brick, asphalt, metal, vinyl or concrete.
  • Elastomeric Copolymers (50+ yr. life) – Excellent elasticity and adhesion. Will stick to damp surfaces. Can be applied below freezing. Cleanup with lacquer thinner. May be applied to wood, brick, asphalt, metal, vinyl or concrete.
  • Polyurethane Foam Sealant (in aerosol can) – A specialized expanding foam product useful for filling large gaps. Expanding foam may be tricky to apply because of the amount of expansion but has excellent sealing and insulation qualities.
  • How Caulks Are Packaged – 10-oz. (approx.) tubes for standard caulking guns are the most common size, but 1-qt. builder’s tubes, 5-oz. squeeze tubes and rope caulk are also available. Approximate coverage, 10-oz. tube: 400′ at 1/4″ bead, 200′ at 3/8″, 100′ at 1/2″.
  • Caulk Backer Rod – Most caulks should not be used on cracks larger than 3/8″ or more than 1/2″ deep (check the instructions). Fill large cracks with flexible foam backer rod.

USING CAULK

  • Caulking should be applied to any gap where air, moisture or insects may penetrate the structure, including the following common locations:
    • Joints between foundation and siding
    • Joints between roof overhang and house
    • Joints between window/door and siding
    • At any penetrations into the house (i.e., telephone wires, TV cable, electrical conduit and gas and water pipes)
    • Dryer, bathroom and kitchen vents
    • Joints between the siding and chimney
  • As a rule, surfaces must be clean and dry in order for caulking to stick. Loose material should be brushed away, and dirt, grease or oil should be removed with a detergent solution. Do not apply in cold weather, except as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • To use a caulking gun, first pull the plunger all the way back and insert the caulking tube (see image). Turn the plunger so the notches engage the trigger of the gun, then push the plunger snugly against the heel of the tube. Cut the nozzle tip with the utility knife and make a hole the size of the bead you want. Puncture the seal at the top of the tube with a 16d nail.

  • To apply caulking, squeeze the trigger and push-don’t pull-the gun along the gap (see image). Pushing the gun drives caulking down into the gap and gives you better adhesion.
  • To tool the joint, first wet your finger with soapy water (if the caulking is formulated for soap-and-water cleanup) or a dab of automotive hand cleaner (if the caulking is formulated for solvent cleanup). Run your finger along the joint, smoothing it and pressing the caulking into the joint. Wipe away excess with a rag.
   
   

TYPES OF WEATHERSTRIPPING

  • The greatest source of air leakage in most homes occurs around doors, windows and access hatches such as the ceiling opening from the living area into an unheated attic (see image). Weatherstripping can be a delicate job because those openings need to be fitted loosely enough that the door or window operates freely, yet tightly enough that air leakage is stopped.
  • The type of weatherstripping you’ll use depends on the location and the type of opening. Three types of weatherstripping are common:
  • Compression – Compression weatherstripping (see image below) is used to seal swinging doors and window sashes. It consists of a molded strip (it may be wood, aluminum or rigid vinyl) with a flexible vinyl bulb along one side. As a rule, compression weatherstripping is the most durable type available.
   
   

  • V-Type Strips – V-shaped weatherstripping (see first two images below) is fitted against the side of the door or window jamb so it presses against the edge of the door or sash and forms a seal. V-stripping may be vinyl or bronze.
  • Foam – Foam weatherstripping (see third image below) is used to seal either swinging or sliding doors or windows. It comes in various sizes, with an adhesive backing on one side. It is fastened to the edge of a door or window stop or to the bottom of a sliding window sash.
  • Thresholds and Door Bottoms – A threshold fills the gap between the floor and the bottom of a door. It may have a built-in vinyl bulb. If not, it must be used in combination with a door bottom (see fourth image below), mounted on the lower edge of the door.
   

INSTALLING WEATHERSTRIPPING

  • To weatherstrip a door, first install the threshold. Measure the distance from the floor to the bottom edge of the door; thresholds come in a number of heights-typically 5/8″, 1″ and 1-1/2″. Choose a threshold that allows about a 1/2″ gap to leave room for the vinyl bulb.
  • The threshold should be placed so its highest point (or the center of the vinyl bulb, if the threshold has a built-in bulb) is directly under the door. Measure the width of the opening and cut the threshold to length with a hacksaw (aluminum thresholds) or a fine-toothed handsaw (wood thresholds). The threshold will probably have to be notched on each end so it fits around the door stops.
  • Set the threshold in place and close the door to check the fit and position. Once the threshold is in place, mark the location on the floor, then open the door. Run a thin bead of caulking along the underside of the threshold on each side. Aluminum thresholds have a C-shaped channel along the edges to accept caulking. Set the threshold in place and screw it firmly to the floor.
  • To apply compression weatherstripping to a door or swinging (casement) window, first close the door or window. If the door has a deadbolt, lock it. Cut each strip to length with a hacksaw or tin snips and stand it in place. Push the strip in toward the door or window sash so the bulb is partially compressed. Don’t fit it too tightly or the door/window won’t close properly. Nail the strip in place, starting from the center and working your way toward both ends. Check the door/window frequently to make sure it operates easily.
  • To apply foam weatherstripping, cut the foam strips to length with scissors. Peel back about 1″ of the adhesive cover strip and press the foam into place at the top of the door/window stop. Work your way down, peeling the cover strip away as you press the foam into place.
  • To apply V-type weatherstripping to a door or swinging (casement) window, cut the strips to length with scissors (vinyl) or hacksaw (bronze). Place each strip on the jamb with the raised “V” facing away from the door or window sash, positioned so the door/window sash will be centered on the strip when closed. Fasten the strips in place.
  • To apply V-type weatherstripping to a double-hung window, first lower the sash. Cut the strip to length and slip it down along the side of the sash with the raised “V” facing outside. Position the strip in the center of the sash and fasten it in place as far as possible. Raise the sash and repeat the process along the lower half of the strip.

Five Easy Projects to Cut Energy Expenditures

Chances are, when you open your monthly utility statements, you’re witnessing energy costs doubling and even tripling at the height of the season. Many homes, particularly those built more than 10 years ago, do not feature the latest energy-saving techniques and products. By spending just a few dollars and doing some simple projects, you can save energy – and significant amounts of money. Here are five fast fixes to help you start saving:

  • Lower Your Lighting Costs –
    Start with this easy task: Replace current light bulbs with energy-saving compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. They screw in just like standard bulbs, but use a fourth of the energy and last up to 10 times longer. An 18-watt CFL bulb provides as much light as a 75-watt standard light bulb. Average savings: $10 – $50 per year

  • Taming the Toilet –
    A constantly-running toilet can use up to 8,000 gallons of water each year. Fix the problem by installing a toilet repair kit that features a new valve, flapper and other devices that will conserve water. Average Savings: $25 – $100 per year

  • Fix Leaky Fixtures –
    Aside from causing that annoying “drip,” leaky faucets can also cause a spike in your water bill. Replacing the aerator and rubber washer will cost you pennies yet save you dollars in the long run. As for the showerhead, consider installing a flow-restricting model – a family of four can conserve 10,000 gallons of water per year going this route. Average Savings: $100 – $300 per year
  • Hot Water Help –
    Your water heater may be working harder than it needs to, costing you precious dollars. Reduce the temperature on the unit to about 120 degrees – the water doesn’t need to be any hotter. If the unit is older than 12 years, you may want to look into replacing it with a new, more energy-efficient model. Average Savings: $20 – $50 per year

  • Install a Programmable Thermostat –
    Installing a programmable thermostat can significantly reduce energy costs, especially in the winter and summer months. Programmable models allow you to automatically adjust the temperature throughout the day, creating a specific energy-saving ‘program’ for weekdays and weekends. Some models even allow you to set preferences on the hour for each day of the week. Average Savings: $125 – $350 per year and up

 

Follow these simple tips and you’ll see savings in no time.

Weather Stripping a Window

Choosing Your Weather Stripping:

Spring-type, tension or folded strips made from bronze, aluminum, stainless steel or vinyl are sometimes nailed in place to the sides and top of the window frame and to the sash on the bottom. The angled or V-shaped strips work best for double-hung windows and are also suitable for doors. This type is durable and cannot be seen when door or window is closed but may make opening and closing difficult and installation is somewhat tricky.

Rigid strip gaskets are made from vinyl, felt or foam attached to wood or metal strips. Attached at the bottom or top of window sash or bottom of doors with fasteners the strip is visible but can be painted to reduce visibility. It is easily installed and the durability varies with material used. Pliable gasket is made of a springy material like vinyl, foam, felt or sponge with an adhesive backing and is effective for wood casement, hinged or sliding windows. Installs easily in the channels and bottom or top of sash. This type is low cost but the durability is generally low and self-adhesive strips may not work on metal and should be considered temporary.

Compressible felt strips are another option but are not very durable and are best used only on warped windows that won’t accept rigid stripping, or for windows that aren’t often opened.

Double-Hung Windows

Tools:

  • Utility Knife
  • Tape Measure
  • Hammer
  1. Clean the bottom of the sash with soap and water and let dry.
  2. Measure the sash and cut the foam weather stripping to length.
  3. Peel the back from the foam. Press the adhesive side of the foam against the bottom of the sash to form a tight bond.
  4. Clean the jamb with soap and water and let dry.
  5. Cut two pieces of V-channel 1″ longer than each sash height.
  6. Peel the back from the V-channel and work it between the sash stiles and the jamb. Press the channel firmly into the jamb.
  7. Drive finish nails through the weather stripping into the jamb to hold it securely. Test the sash to ensure it doesn’t catch on the nails.
  8. Clean the back of the bottom sash with soapy water and allow it to dry completely.
  9. Cut a piece of V-channel to match the width of the sash.
  10. With the sash raised 3″ to 4″, peel the back from the channel and press it firmly into the back of the sash even with the top. The V should open facing up so the weather stripping compresses when the window is closed.

Casement Windows

Tools:

  • Utility Knife
  • Tape Measure
  • Hammer
  • Materials
  • Self-adhesive foam insulation
  1. Open the window and clean the outside of the stops with soapy water. Allow the stops to dry completely.
  2. Cut self-adhesive foam to fit the top, bottom and sides of the stops.
  3. Remove the back from each piece of foam and press it into the outside of the stops.

A Guide to Fire Prevention

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), who sponsors Fire Prevention Week (the week of Oct. 9), reports that while 95 percent of U.S. homes have smoke alarms, 70 percent of home fire deaths occur where there is no working alarm. What’s more, about half of the 2,670 people killed in home fires in 2002 died between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., the prime sleep hours, even though only one-fourth of home fires occurred during those times. Those most affected by the lack of warning are young children and the elderly.

Indeed, these are frightening statistics. But there is something you can do to help prevent fires and detect them before they get out of control. After all, safety should never take a vacation, and planning for an emergency just makes good sense. Here are some tips to ensure that you and your family are safe and secure:

  • Smoke Alarms
    Install them if you have none, and check the ones you do have. Press the test button once a month and change batteries every year. Also, smoke alarms older than 10 years are more likely to fail. Consider installing one of the newest alarm innovations that features both a voice and alarm warning.
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarms
    Equally as important as smoke alarms is having a unit that will alert you of high levels of carbon monoxide in the home. Check the unit’s packaging and also with your local fire department to learn more about what constitutes a hazardous CO reading. Some manufacturers now offer units that combine smoke and CO protection.
  • Heating Equipment
    Heating equipment is a leading factor in home fires during winter months. Be sure to have furnaces serviced by a reputable inspector, cleaned and maintained each fall before cold weather sets in. When operating portable or fixed space heaters, be conscious to keep them away from items that could ignite, including drapes and articles of clothing.
  • Personal Habits
    Be conscious of where you are when you do the things you do. Smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths, sending bedding, trash and furniture up in flames. More fires start in the kitchen than any other place in the home, so keep a watchful eye on what you’re cooking. Candle fires have tripled over the last 10 years, with some 40 percent of those fires beginning in a bedroom.
  • Flammables
    Ensure that flammables, such as gasoline, kerosene and paints, are kept in proper containers, tightly sealed and stored away from heat and flame. Never store any of those items near a furnace or hot water heater, and be sure to follow manufacturer instructions on storing these types of products.
  • Extinguishers
    Many small home fires can be taken care of using a fire extinguisher before they get out of hand. The National Safety Council’s Web site, www.nsc.org, suggests keeping an extinguisher rated for grease and electrical fires in the kitchen. Also place properly-rated units near the furnace and in the garage. One thing to remember, though, is that extinguishers do not last forever. Even if the needle is “in the green,” plan on replacing the unit about every three years.
  • Escape Plan and Practice
    Whether you already have a plan mapped out or you need to develop a new one, use Fire Safety Week as a good excuse to do something worthwhile. You can find detailed information on the NFPA Web site: www.firepreventionweek.org.

Have fun and be safe!

Fireplace and Chimney Maintenance

The most recent statistics show that fireplace fires cause more than 68,000 home fires annually. Without proper maintenance and cleaning, your newspaper kindling could quickly turn into a disaster, causing thick black smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) to enter your home, endangering the lives of you and your loved ones.

Your fireplace is the perfect way to keep warm and cozy as the weather begins to cool. Keep friends and family safe and healthy by following these tips to prevent a fireplace fiasco:

  • Call a Professional
    Have a professional chimney sweep inspect and clean your fireplace and chimney every year. It may not appear as though anything is wrong, but there’s a whole lot more going on inside the chimney than you may think. Visit the Chimney Safety Institute of America at www.csia.org for information on contacting a chimney sweep professional in your area.

  • Keep Critters Out
    Birds and other animals like to live in warm areas when the weather gets cooler, and the chimney is one of the first places they’ll call “home.” Install a chimney cap to prevent animals and debris from getting in. Construction materials range from practical wire mesh to more elaborate and decorative brass and bronze. A brief consultation at your local Ace store will help you find one that meets your needs while keeping unwanted visitors at bay.

  • A Flue that Works for You
    When lighting a fire, always be sure that the flue has been opened properly, and likewise, make sure it closes tightly after the fire has been extinguished. This not only minimizes health and safety risks but can also lower energy costs by reducing the influx of cold air into the house. To test how airtight your flue is, close it all the way and feel inside the fireplace for drafts – if you can feel cool air coming through and cracks or crevices, your flue may require repair or replacement. Chimney professionals will often recommend installing a damper on top of the chimney, which can be opened and closed from the inside and will seal out drafts when the fireplace is not in use.

Fireplace and chimney fires can easily be prevented if you follow these simple tips.

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