Boost­ing wall in­su­la­tion; ozone

Annapolis Valley Register - - HOMES -

Q: Does it make sense to ap­ply rigid sheets of in­su­la­tion to the out­side of my house to boost ef­fi­ciency as part of a retro­fit? How does it com­pare to cre­at­ing a dou­ble stud wall?

A: Yes, ab­so­lutely. Rigid in­su­la­tion sheets are one of the best things you can do when ren­o­vat­ing the out­side of a build­ing be­fore new sid­ing goes on. It boosts ef­fec­tive in­su­la­tion ac­tion and makes stud wall cav­i­ties warmer for any given out­door tem­per­a­ture. This last ben­e­fit is im­por­tant. Warmer stud cav­i­ties greatly lessen the chances con­den­sa­tion will oc­cur in­side wall cav­i­ties dur­ing cold weather. Dou­ble-wall con­struc­tion boosts the en­ergy ef­fi­ciency of a build­ing too, but it’s much more dif­fi­cult to in­stall in a retro­fit sit­u­a­tion.

Fire­place smoke smell Q: How can I get rid of a smoky smell in our liv­ing room where we have a wood­burn­ing fire­place? This smell has per­sisted long af­ter we ended the fire sea­son.

A: Smoke odours of­ten per­sist for a while, es­pe­cially with fire­places. One rea­son is resid­ual ash and the smell of soot that wafts down the chim­ney. Is your fire­place as clean as pos­si­ble in and around where the logs burn? Also, is the flue fully closed to keep chim­ney smells out be­tween uses?

If you want to take things a step fur­ther, con­sider an ozone gen­er­a­tor. This is a plug-in elec­tric de­vice that cre­ates air­borne oxy­gen mol­e­cules made of three oxy­gen atoms in­stead of the usual two. This three-atom con­fig­u­ra­tion is ozone and it’s some­what un­sta­ble.

It re­sults in free oxy­gen atoms float­ing around in the air for a while, ox­i­diz­ing com­pounds that cause odours and elim­i­nat­ing them. Restora­tion con­trac­tors use ozone gen­er­a­tors to elim­i­nate smoke odours, and they’re used to de­odor­ize ho­tels and ve­hi­cles. Ozone can be ir­ri­tat­ing in high con­cen­tra­tions, but that’s an easy prob­lem to avoid.

Wear a res­pi­ra­tor if you have to en­ter a room be­ing treated with ozone, or just leave the room closed for a few hours af­ter the ozone gen­er­a­tor has com­pleted its cy­cle. Ozone au­to­mat­i­cally re­verts back to harm­less, or­di­nary oxy­gen in time.

Soggy cathe­dral ceil­ing fix Q: What should I do to pre­vent wa­ter leaks that dam­aged the kitchen cathe­dral ceil­ing of my 1970s house af­ter a thaw last win­ter? There are 30 pot­lights in the ceil­ing. The in­sur­ance team feels the cause could be a roof leak, con­den­sa­tion or both.

A: You’ve got all the mak­ings of a clas­sic Cana­dian cathe­dral ceil­ing con­den­sa­tion prob­lem. If warm, in­door air is al­lowed to sneak into un­heated spa­ces such as your ceil­ing, the air will cool dur­ing win­ter and lose its abil­ity to hold mois­ture. This mois­ture could come out as wa­ter droplets within the batt in­su­la­tion in your ceil­ing, but more of­ten it ap­pears as hid- den frost.

The longer the cold spell, the more frost ac­cu­mu­lates. Even­tu­ally even a Cana­dian win­ter gets warm, and when that hap­pens week’s worth of frost melts. That’s prob­a­bly what ru­ined your ceil­ing since the roof doesn’t leak when it’s just rain­ing out­side.

The so­lu­tion is to have closed-cell spray foam ap­plied to the un­der­side of your roof struc­ture dur­ing restora­tion work. When ap­plied thicker than three inches, closed-cell spray foam acts as its own vapour bar­rier, pre­vent­ing the mi­gra­tion and con­den­sa­tion of warm in­door air into the roof struc­ture. Spray foam is def­i­nitely the way to go given all the re­cessed fix­tures you have.

There’s re­ally no way around this be­cause so much in­door air can leak into the ceil­ing around them. Be sure to use IC-rated re­cessed fix­tures fit­ted with LED bulbs. Be­sides us­ing much less elec­tric­ity, LED bulbs run cooler than in­can­des­cent. You’ll also need to use fi­bre­glass shin­gles to with­stand the heat of an un­ven­ti­lated roof.

STEVE MAXWELL PHOTO

This por­ta­ble elec­tric ozone gen­er­a­tor is a pow­er­ful de­odor­izer for rooms and ve­hi­cles. Ozone is an un­sta­ble form of oxy­gen that ox­i­dizes odour­caus­ing com­pounds.

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