Ice dam

  When my wife and I bought our current house, one appeal was that it was largely uninsulated. Given the choice between somewhat insulated and uninsulated, give me the blank slate every time. We moved in September and between the start of a super busy audit season and unpacking, any desired projects were temporarily back-burnered. […]


Ban The Can: Why You Should Avoid Recessed Lights

by Erik North on July 29, 2013

Post image for Ban The Can: Why You Should Avoid Recessed Lights

    That image above is of a recessed light in a house built in 1994. The blower door was 5750 CFM50, which unless one were testing the Astrodome, is quite high. The outside temperature was around 10F and you can see that inside the can is 27F. Bad bad bad. I ran into a […]


5 (Fairly) Simple DIY Projects to Save Energy

by Erik North on June 17, 2013

Post image for 5 (Fairly) Simple DIY Projects to Save Energy

    I like simple projects because, hey, simple. It’s like whipping up a nice tortellini and pesto dish versus tackling a full blown chicken mole (and for the non-culinarily inclined, check out this epic you-gotta-be-kidding-me recipe for Rick Bayless’ Oaxacan Chicken Mole). They’re both satisfying but one is liable to make the average home […]


Post image for The Worst House Ever Audited (Was Built in 2008) Part 3

    To recap: Last post I started reviewing possibly the worst house I ever audited. The house had built in 2008, which hit one of my pet peeves: That new automatically means good. But to reiterate a buddy’s favorite saying, “a house built to code is the worst house you’re legally allowed to build.” […]


Post image for Journal of Poor Homebuilding v.16 – More Giant Chimney Holes

    I posted an example before of the massive chimney hole that lives in many northern homes. This one is a little different. The previous post was of a gable end chimney that had been framed in when a previous homeowner built a garage and great room over the garage. This is a more […]


Post image for Journal of Poor Homebuilding v.11 – Heat Loss Is Blowing In The Wind

    I’ve talked a bunch about wind washing and how it affects insulation and comfort. This infrared shot is of a house with a vented attic during heavy, gusting winds. The cold air is blasting right into the attic and wall framing. In a nutshell, Maine and most of the East Coast has…well, a […]


Journal of Poor Homebuilding v.7

by Erik North on June 25, 2012

Journal of Poor Home Building

    Dryer vents…you can’t point them just ANYWHERE. The surrounding loose fiberglass had been soaked and dried repeatedly over the years and had congealed into solid matts. The patch of moisture damage fiberglass was about a yard across. The roof sheathing overhead showed loads of evidence of moisture condensation – staining, small amounts of […]

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Post image for We’re Living In a Material World – Insulation Materials, That is

  Insulation materials that is… We had cellulose blown into the walls of our house about three years ago. The contractors did a nice job and I checked over everything with an infrared scan afterward. The most interesting part was when the sales manager visited the site that afternoon. The manager, both members of the […]


How Much Insulation Do You Need?

by Erik North on June 8, 2012


  OK…We’re back after that brief incident of real life. Besides the obvious answer – MORE (but you knew that just based on your heating bills, didn’t you?), how much insulation do you need? There are loads of different standards from Energy Star to PassivHaus to your dad (“about this much” … holds hands apart). […]


Post image for How to Insulate and Air Seal Attic Pull Down Stairs

  Pull down attic stairs are super-sized attic hatches that just beg homeowners to store more stuff in your attic. Besides the issues stemming from the particularly large hole in your ceiling, it creates a storage headache. For homeowners, a storage problem usually means ‘not enough.’ For auditors, this means using space that ought to […]

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