Indoor Air Quality
Why the Attic Is One of the Most Important Spots in a Home to Insulate
Insulation is key to maintaining an energy–efficient house for the cold winter months, the hot summer months, and the variety of conditions between the two. People often make the mistaken assumption that insulation is only to help keep a house warm. But insulation serves as a thermal barrier: it prevents the movement of heat in any direction. During the winter, it traps heat indoors and makes a home easier to keep warm; during the summer, it prevents heat from coming indoors and makes a home easier to air condition.
A house requires effective insulation throughout its outdoor walls to create the necessary heat sealing. However, perhaps the most important place in a home for insulation is inside the attic. If your home has poor insulation in its attic, or if the insulation has aged and started to deteriorate, it will cause a serious issue with trapping heat for cold weather and keeping it out during warm weather. You can expect an uncomfortable home and elevated air conditioning and heating bills throughout the year until you have experts put in better insulation for the attic.
The attic in winter
Heat rises, and this is why an effective layer of insulation in the attic is crucial. The majority of heat that a home will lose during cold weather escapes through the roof. Think of the insulation as the equivalent of putting on a thick woolen hat when you are outdoors. The same way that the hat helps you keep warm in the cold weather by stopping heat from rising out of your body, the layer of insulation in the attic keeps the house warm by preventing heating from rising out through the roof.
The attic in summer
During a clean summer day, the sun beats down hard upon the roof of a house, and its radiant energy will elevate the temperature inside the attic far above that outside or throughout the rest of the house. It’s common for the temperature in the attic on a warm day to push above 120°F! This turns the attic into a large heat reservoir, and this excess warmth will spread down into the rest of the house and raise its temperature, usually by 10°F. This is significant enough of a change to affect comfort and put extra stress on the air conditioner. An insulation layer will prevent most of the heat in the attic from seeping down in the rest of the house.
It’s important that you have professionals experienced in insulation, heating and air conditioning, and indoor air quality install the heat barrier in your attic. Insulation requires balance: too much insulation with too high R–value can be just as bad as too little. Rely on the experience of insulation professionals to make sure that your attic can handle any weather.
Important Safety Tips for a Gas Furnace
Natural gas furnaces in homes have an exaggerated reputation as dangerous appliances. Perhaps many decades ago there was some cause for worry; but the manufacturers of modern gas furnaces design them with safety uppermost in mind. With the proper care and a bit of caution, you shouldn’t need to worry about hazard from leaks or fire with the gas furnace that keeps your home warm.
Here are a few tips to help you maintain a safe furnace. If you ever have any doubts about your furnace’s operation or concerns that it become unsafe, call for professional heating technicians. You should never attempt repairs on a gas furnace on your own—let the people with years of training handle the work!
Safety tips to keep in mind
- Know where the gas shut–off valve is located: In case of emergencies or any situation where you feel the furnace could be turning hazardous, you must know where you can shut off the gas to the furnace. Close off the flow of gas before you call for repair technicians.
- Listen for clicking sounds from the cabinet: Some clicking noises from a furnace are common when it first comes to life. However, if you hear a clicking sound right before the blower fan comes on, it could indicate that there are cracks along the heat exchanger. This is a potentially dangerous scenario, since the heat exchanger will start to leak carbon monoxide exhaust. Call for repair technicians to investigate and see if the heat exchanger should be replaced.
- Make sure children know not the play around the furnace: The surface of a furnace will become hot when it is working. If you have children in your home, make certain they are aware of this and reduce the chance of one of them becoming injured.
- Replace a rusting furnace: Under most conditions, a furnace will not develop corrosion. However, when a furnace ages to the point where it is no longer venting correctly, the reaction of metal with the combustion gas will trigger rust. When you see signs of this, the furnace should be replaced with a new unit for the sake of safety.
- Schedule annual maintenance: This is the most important step to take to keep a furnace in safe condition. Every year, usually during the fall, arrange to have a HVAC technician from a reliable company inspect the furnace and make tune–ups and adjustments. The maintenance technician will detect any places where there are malfunctions or the potential for malfunctions and help you schedule any repair necessary to see that the system works safely for the coming cold season. If your furnace becomes too aged to work adequately, you should consider replacing it before it can become a potential risk.
If you follow these guidelines and listen to the advice from your professional heating technician, there is no reason you shouldn’t enjoy a long and worry–free service life from your furnace.