Q: My husband and I have a fairly new home (built in 2001). The problem we have had since day one is that the closets are like refrigerators and so are a couple of the back rooms. I climbed up into the attics above these rooms and closet and there appears to be ample insulation blown in. Yet you can actually feel a "breeze" coming from wherever. Who can I contact to help fix this?
A: Since you mention that the back rooms are cold in addition to the closets, there could be a problem with the heating ducts. They may not be properly connected, or they could be undersized. A problem with the duct connection at the fittings that come though the floor could also account for the draft. So, one of the first things I would do is contact a heating contractor and have the ducts checked to see if that could be the problem.
While the heating contractor is there, ask him to check around and see if he can determine other sources of air leakage. He may not be able to fix it, but if he sees anything wrong it will be a big help. From there, you would probably want to contact an insulation and weatherization contractor help plug up whatever leaks were discovered.
If you can get the bedrooms warmed up but the closets are still cold, you might want to consider removing the solid closet doors and replacing them with louvered doors. This will allow warm air to circulate into the closets and help keep them from being so cold, and is also good for bringing fresh air into those spaces.
Q: I have a leaking chimney problem. I have had the flashing checked, and some additional coating put down by chimney cleaners. I have had many people trying to correct this problem, but it works for a while, and then we have a heavy blowing rain storm and it leaks again. I have had the chimney coated in concrete mix, and that even worked for a while, then a big heavy rain and it leaks again. The chimney sits at the corner of the roof.
A: You’ve had lots of people actually look at this onsite, so I’m not sure if I can add much. However, since you mention wind-driven rain, my inclination is still the flashings.
Flashings can be odd things. They can look fine and perform well under normal conditions, but sometimes can lift or shift in the wind and create an opening that allows rain in. Also, I’m assuming that you discovered this problem when you saw water leaks or water stains inside the house. However, water can often travel from a leak somewhere else. So it may show up around the chimney, but be coming from a different part of the roof or even the siding. …CONTINUED
I would begin by carefully examining the attic around the chimney. Look for water stains on the framing, and in the insulation. See if you can track the leak to be certain where it’s coming from. That should give you some additional clues about what’s going on.
If it still appears to be around the chimney, have an experienced mason or roofer examine the flashings again. Inform the contractor that the leak occurs with wind-driven rain. The flashing may need to be refastened and resealed, or they may need to be replaced altogether.
Q: Will the town give me the permits to have my friends do work on my house — and then have the town inspect it before closing up the walls? I am not planning to sell it at all. I plan to live there.
A: The way most jurisdictions work is that you can take out the permits on your own for work you are doing on your own house, or a licensed contractor can take them out for you. Some building departments will also allow others to get permits on your behalf if they are acting as your agent.
Whoever is doing the actual work will have to comply with all the applicable building codes, and be bound by the results of the inspections. Your friends can certainly help you do the work, but if they are not licensed contractors then you will ultimately be responsible to the city for the permits and the condition of their work.
The best thing to do is have a talk with your local permit department first. Figure out which permits you need and what is required to get them, and then ask who can obtain them. You may be able to sign something that allows your friend to act as your agent.
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