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‘I think you may be barking up the wrong attic’

‘Home Pro,’ Mitch Kuffa shares his latest round of Q & A.

Q

I live in a one-story house and have this persistent and intermittent leak in my bathroom ceiling. It stains the area around the draw fan, and I don’t want to paint this room until I find the source of the problem. We have looked in the attic and see no water stains and have checked the roof, and everything seems OK. Now what?

A

I think you may be barking up the wrong attic. Your problem may not be a leak at all, but rather condensation forming on the INSIDE of your draw fan vent pipe. This can occur if you have a metal flue pipe coming from your vent fan, the fan itself is running (drawing air from the bath), someone is creating moisture-laden air in the bathroom (similar to a hot steamy shower), and the outside temperature including the attic area is cold. The hot moist air is drawn up through the cold metal pipe and PRESTO! Condensation forms and starts dripping back into the draw fan ceiling area. Look up into the attic once again and check to see if you have a metal draw fan vent pipe that is exposed.

Keep in mind that this condition could also exist if the vent pipe is plastic, although it would be much less frequent. Insulate the pipe by wrapping it with a thin blanket of insulation taped in place. And remember, the pipe should be directed to an exterior vent or the outside of the house.

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Q

I have this garbage type smell in my basement, and I cannot determine where it is coming from. I have cleaned and moved stored items (looking for something that has deteriorated) to no avail. What do you think?

A

Try pouring a small bucket of water down all floor drains that you can find in your basement. Typically, one of these floor drains is tied into the sanitary sewer system, and if they have not been used, the TRAP below the floor dries out and can allow sewer gas to back-up into your basement. Once you pour water into the floor drain, the “U” shaped trap fills with water and prevents the condition from occurring. This condition can also happen at sinks, laundry tubs, toilets, bathtubs, showers, etc. These fixtures, however, are more regularly used, and their TRAPS stay full of water. Basement floor drains are rarely used and tend to dry out.

Q

I am experiencing certain rooms in my house that are colder than others. It drives me crazy. In one room, I’m sweating, and in others, I have steam coming from my breath. Is there anything I can do to correct this problem?

A

Most heating systems have integral dampers located on all heat runs, feeding each individual room. They can be found in the basement, where the round ducts leave the larger square trunk line. The damper looks like a lever on the round metal pipe. If the lever is PARALLEL to the duct pipe, it is OPEN. If the level is PERPENDICULAR, the damper is CLOSED. You can provide a “heat balance” by adjusting these dampers. Often, the rooms closest to the furnace have hot air pouring out while the rooms distant have weaker and cooler airflow. So, open the ducts completely for the distant rooms from the furnace and close (or partially close) the rooms that are too warm. Keep in mind that this is most easily done with two people (one upstairs checking the airflow and the other in the basement, identifying and turning the dampers). If, perchance, your system does not have dampers, then your best bet is to control airflow via your registers. If you have central a/c, you may have to re-balance the system in warm weather. If all else fails, your favorite heating contractor can perform this HEAT BALANCE for you.

Thank you, happy holidays and keep those questions coming in.

Inspections By MJK
Mitch & Celeste Kuffa
627 N Riverside
St. Clair, MI 48079
(810) 329-4052

Have a home question? Give Mitch a call today! (810) 329-4052.

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