Recently there has been posts about draining hot water heaters and the pros as well as the cons in doing this. Typical maintenance on a hot water heater is to flush the bottom drain at
least once a year. In some towns where they flush their fire hydrants to keep the pipes clear it is suggested to follow their lead a few days after as any sediment that is disturbed ends up on the bottom of your heater.
What happens then is water displacement. The sandy partials that collect on the bottom of the tank displaces the water ever so slightly. This results in hot spots on the bottom of the tank. When this occurs the flames overheat the tank and begin to break down the steel. After many years this breakdown ends up becoming a tiny hole that is filled with this debris, oftentimes preventing the leak.
However if you decide to drain your heater after many years of not doing it, or all of a sudden you start using the heater more then normal, this sediment that has been plugging that tiny hole is flushed out, often resulting in a leak in a few days after.
So the moral is to flush yearly, but if you have not done so for many years to not touch it or you will end up with a leak.
After draining you may find that the flush hose bib valve at the bottom will not turn off. This is because of some sediment that has blocked the valve and prevented it from turning off. If that happens a hose bib cap can be purchased at the local hardware store for about $1.50 put that on and your good to go. The photo is the inside of such a valve on a hot water heater that was 6 years old and had never been flushed. We tried to empty this tank to replace with a new high efficiency tankless, next photo but the hole was so small it only trickled out. The new heater will produce enough hot water for two showers, one laundry and one dishwasher to run all at the same time.
The hint will be this is in a very old converted carriage house late 1800's Photo of house included. The records etc is not a clue, just decorations so do not let that fool you. It is located on the third level of the building.
This is us in the process of doing another home. Seeing were in the heating mode, I thought this may shed some light on why it happens. This house is a split level with several overhangs
that extend the walls beyond the foundation. After doing a energy audit and interviewing the owner who complained of cold feet in the rooms where these overhangs were located. We opened up them and found that the builder on this 45 year old home used foil backed insulation that was 3" thick. The insulation was filled with mouse droppings, saturated damp with moisture due to attempts by the owner running humidifiers in the house with no results and insulation filled with dust collection from air leaks coming from the outside of the home.
We removed all of the soffits and removed all the damaged insulation. When looking up into the floor cavities we could see daylight out the other side of the house over 20 feet away. Light fixtures that were put into the ceiling leaked tremendous amounts of air when we did our air testing. All of this air was the result of leakage from the overhangs.
Once cleaned out we sprayed about 2.5 inches of closed cell insulation blocking the air flow from entering into the wall cavity. Followed by Eco Batt insulation that has a R rating of 30. The combined R value is R-48 for the overhangs.
Using foam boards to act as a dam to hold the spray foam up between each bay we successfully stopped the air flow through all of the floor joists on two levels of the home. Tests reveal that we stopped over 80% of the air leaks in this home. This will result in an estimated savings of over $900 per year in heat bills while improving comfort and safety.
Air sealing a home has many benefits. Air flowing through walls entering from the outside and leaving out through the attic draws dust, humidity, mold and air pollution into the home making it in some instances worse then the air outside to breath.
AS this occurs your heating and cooling system needs to overcome the new so called "fresh" air that enters as a result. This causes the need to have larger HVAC equipment to handle not only the loads of the house, but to provide enough capacity to handle what is leaking into the house. Add to that in summer you are allowing more moisture to enter and in winter your bringing in dry air that needs to have moisture added to it.
If you simply air seal that will stop all the leakage and lower your costs of operation.
You do not need to use the foam methods that we use, a simple caulking gun with a good quality sealant will do the trick. The more you seal the more you will save.
This scan is of a dining room that was recently renovated. The owner complained of drafts and being cold. After scanning the room I found several issues. Although they insulated the room,
the contractor failed to properly install the insulation. This is a common issue if its not done correctly. More often then not insulation is stapled to the inside of the studs using the flaps that are provided on the facing of the vapor barrier. This is incorrect. What this does is creates a air pocket between the new drywall and the face of the vapor barrier. This results in air movement in cycles up and down within the wall. Oftentimes causing air laden with moisture to be drawn into this mini-cycle environment. The result is lower efficiency of the insulation and in some cases mold development within the wall cavity.
In the photo shown you can see the cold air being drawn down from the top plate area within the wall. The blue colors are colder as shown by the scale on the right. Red is warmer.
In addition you can see air leakage out of the ceiling trims as well. This is caused by no vapor barrier being installed over the top plate in the room. This allows air to flow freely between the top plate and the wall. Ideally no vapor barrier on the insulation itself should be used, followed by a plastic sheet that is glued around all the edges and stapled into place. This assures that no air containing moisture will enter into the wall cavity.
If you look at the 2nd photo you can see a bloom of sorts of dark purple blues and light blues to green. This is air leaking out of the top of the window trims. This air in bringing in outside temps bypassing the windows all together. Many people install new windows thinking they are loosing heat as a result. When all they need to do is caulk and properly seal the frames.
During this time of year many people suffer from static electricity. The result of dry air in the house. In order to correct this issue they install all sorts of dehumidifiers in an attempt to raise the humidity level within the home. This is simply a waste of money and energy. If you stop the air leakage out of your home by proper air sealing the house will remain properly humidified. What this is telling you is your home leaks air and energy. This moisture you are adding is simply going into the wall cavities where it cools down enough to condense within the insulation area. The result is wet insulation that grows mold and makes the house more expensive to heat and cool.
As many of you know I have been involved with the Susan G Komen group in our state for the past few years. Having started the Ride for the Cure event to generate funding for breast cancer
research and primarily to help fund local groups get mammograms done to those who cannot afford it. The photos attached are just a few of the hundreds that were taken yesterday October 21. We had close to 100 horses present, although I do not yet have the official amount brought in, It is estimated to be around $65,000 about 11 grand more then last year.
These photos were taken today in NJ at the Jersey Fresh event. There are horses from all over the world competing for spots on their countries teams for this years Olympic team.
Now you know what I do on the weekends when I am not working. This young lady dates the trainer in our barn where we keep our horse. I was there yesterday, today and will be there tomorrow raising money for my Susan G. Komen Ride for the Cure event that I chair. www.komenridenj.org
This boiler makes both heat for two zones of baseboard and 0ne zone of radiant heat for the house. And makes the domestic hot water for two and one half baths. Cost? $8 grand. Took two days to remove old cast iron boiler and hot water heater, mount on wall, pipe and bleed out the air. Client loves it. Cannot hear it run, is 98% efficient and is warranted for 10 years. Only draw back is they must install a water softener system as the hard water will calcify to quick in the heater
area and lower its ability to heat the water in an efficient manner.
A recent spray foam job we did for a client shows that the owner saved over 42% on their heating bill by just air sealing the bottom sill area within the home. We had no access to the attic, but had we did get into that savings would have been close to 60% just on the heat alone!
Insulation was installed prior to this project on the sills, but we removed it and replaced it with four inches of closed cell with a R value of close to R
Not only did the owner save money their comfort also increased which allows them to keep the thermostat lower saving even more money.
So before you decide to insulate, air seal all gaps, you can use spray foam in a can, caulking or simply call a company that does this type of work. It is more expensive as professionally installed spray foam runs around $1.50 per board foot and up, but the savings more then pay for the cost in the near future.