Q: We are currently having fiberglass insulation blown into our 1850s house. So far they have completed the attic and the second floor. They have drilled the holes in the first floor. Now they are telling us that they cannot find the rubber hose they need to complete the project and it is too cold for them to complete the project and we need to wait until spring. I would like to know if the cold weather is a factor and if you know what the rubber hose is called, which they claim they cannot find.
A: It depends somewhat on exactly what they are blowing into the cavities. Some wall-cavity insulation has a binder or an adhesive additive that might be affected by cold weather, but in my opinion that would be only during prolonged periods of extreme cold. As to the rubber hose they’re referring to, I would have no idea what that could be. Even the most specialized parts for insulation-blowing equipment should be readily available from the manufacturer, and I could see no reason why it should delay a project by several months.
It sounds to me like the contractor (I assume you are dealing with a licensed contractor!!) is stalling you, and it could be for any number of reasons. My suggestion would be to first find out what material they’re using, and then contact the manufacturer to confirm that there are no specific cold-weather restrictions on the application of their product.
After that, I would talk to the contractor and insist that the job be completed by or very close to whatever date is specified in your contract. I would then withhold any payment to the contractor until the job is completed to your satisfaction. If you have doubts about the quality of workmanship, or if you’re unsure if the job has been completed to industry standards, you can also talk with the manufacturer of the insulation products — the same one you contact about the cold-weather issues — and ask them to send a product representative out to inspect.
Q: I was wondering if you could answer a question for me. We had a new furnace and central air installed three years ago. The house is cooler now than it was with the old furnace and costs us more on our gas bill. The furnace company installed our heat vents on inside walls and our cold-air returns near the ceiling. Should we move these? Web sites that I see say to place heat registers on outside walls and cold-air returns near the floor to pull cold — not hot — air near the ceiling.
A: Here’s the general rule of thumb for the placement of heating registers and cold-air returns, and why it’s done that way: …CONTINUED
Heat registers are typically placed on exterior walls, below windows. That’s the point in any given room where the greatest amount of cold air will be present, so that’s also the point where you want the heated air from the duct to be, in order to be the most effective at keeping the room comfortable. When registers are placed on inside walls, the heating system has to work harder to circulate the heated air and counteract the cold air coming off the windows.
The purpose of the return-air duct is to gather air from the house and return it to the furnace, hence its name. That returning air is then reheated by the furnace and recirculated back into the duct system and back into the house. Whenever possible, return-air ducts are typically placed high on a wall, or in a ceiling, simply because that’s where the air in the room is the warmest. By gathering warm air instead of cold air, the furnace doesn’t have to work as hard to reheat the air before recirculating it.
Q: I have two bow windows, each with four windows in each bow. I have a problem though. The wood piece below the windows I think is rotted. Do I need to replace both bows? That’s kind of expensive. Can the bows come out and be replaced and the rotted wood be replaced with something that doesn’t rot, or is it not worth it? The windows are nearly 35 years old. I can’t ask a window guy that sells windows and don’t know who else to call to figure it out.
A: A wooden bow window such as the one you describe is basically four individual windows attached to a wide top board called a headboard and a matching bottom board called a foot board. Various pieces of trim finish off the assembly. The entire window is factory assembled, and is installed into the wall opening as one piece. After that, the installation is completed by putting trim between the window and the siding.
If what you are describing are the exterior trim pieces, those can be replaced relatively easily in most cases. If, on the other hand, you are talking about the footboard itself, that’s more difficult. In the bow windows I’ve worked with, the way all the parts are connected means that the entire window unit would need to come out in order to remove the footboard and install a new one. If that’s the case, it will probably be more cost effective to install a complete new unit than to try and repair one that is 35 years old. You will also end up with a much more energy-efficient window.
That’s about all I can tell you without actually seeing the window. You mentioned that you can’t ask a window guy — I assume that’s because you’re afraid he’s going to sell you a new window no matter what. So I would suggest that you call a local glass company, explain the situation, and see if they have a carpenter they can recommend. He or she can come out, take a look at the actual problem, and make some repair or replacement recommendations from there.
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