Barron Heating AC Electrical & Plumbing Blog: Archive for the ‘moisture’ Category

Spring Maintenance Checklist

Monday, March 20th, 2017

Is your house ready for spring?

Man Cleaning Gutters on Ladder

Although this winter has brought us an unusual amount of school-canceling, perilous-driveway-navigating, and downright gloomy weather, spring is inevitable. And while this light at the end of the tunnel may seem miles and miles away, the last thing we want is for the warmer weather to take us (and our house) by surprise.

What are some steps to take towards a smooth spring transition?

Exterior Inspection

While we have the ability to don our heavy-duty rain apparel in wet weather, our houses are outside and without Gortex through rain, wind, sleet, and snow here in the Pacific Northwest. At the end of every winter season  it’s a good idea to do a walkaround of your property and visually inspect your property to catch issues, especially in the following problem areas:


Your roof takes the brunt of winter weather. You can even do a simple inspection of your roof without stepping on a ladder. If your eyesight isn’t the best, grab a pair of binoculars or even your iPhone camera to zoom in and check for obvious changes. Shingles popping up, buckling, cracking, or just not looking right? Better call in a roofer to tackle things.


Although your masonry fireplace may have been cozy in the winter, water damage to your chimney joints can leave your house decidedly un-cozy if not taken care of. If you spot crumbling masonry, vegetation, or a calcium-like buildup on your chimney, you may need to reseal your chimney with a water-resistant barrier.


Get rid of those leaves taking up residence in your gutters and downspouts. You wouldn’t want accumulated debris causing water damage to your eaves or trim, or pooling around your foundation, would you? Full gutters may also be inviting to critters who can wreak havoc on your attic space.


Check to make sure any caulking or weather stripping around your windows is intact and recaulk if needed; a tight seal around your windows will keep leakage to a minimum and will help your heating/cooling system to work more efficiently. It doesn’t hurt to give your windows a solid cleaning as well–but try to avoid harsh chemicals and abrasives when doing so as to not cause damage to the glass, sills, frames, or screens.

Deck and Porches

Decks, patios, porches, stairs and railings may need special attention after a long and wet winter. Check to make sure there is no warping, discoloration, splintering, loose boards or accumulated debris. Wood decks and fences should also be treated every 4-6 years, if the stain doesn’t look like it should or water has turned some of the wood a dark grey, hire a deck professional to treat your deck and fence.


Trim vegetation back from structures; errant limbs and leaves can leave marks in your home’s paint and may require time and money to fix. You can also start planning or executing projects–like gardens, ponds, walkways, or any other landscaping changes you’d like to make on your property so that you’re not behind come summer.

Interior Upkeep

Bust out the Dustbuster, unearth the mop, and take a deep breath: spring is in the air. Or is that just the smell of Lemon Pledge? Cleaning up around the house is a great way to usher in a new season and get us ready for warmer weather. Now that the outside of our house is taken care of, what’s on the list for the inside?

General Cleaning

Here’s where that Pledge may come in handy. Doing a sweep of the house and cleaning the oft neglected things–dusty nooks and crannies, window coverings, tops of cabinets, ceiling fans, backsplashes, etc.–will not only make things look nicer, it was also improve your indoor air quality (IAQ) by eliminating some pesky allergens like dust and pet dander.

Read: Got Dust? The Spots You May Be Missing

Air Conditioner Maintenance

Speaking of limiting allergens–making sure your air conditioner is running smoothly and efficiently is an excellent way to keep you and your home healthy. You should change the filter, check hose connections for leaks, and make sure the drain pans are draining freely. You can always schedule a maintenance appointment with a professional if you suspect your unit is not functioning properly.

Attic Inspection

Mold, insects, and mice–oh no! Inspect your attic and crawl spaces to make sure none of these invasive issues have made your home <their home. The right ventilation and insulation will deter mold or pests from colonizing further (especially in the warmer months to come). If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, bringing in a professional may be necessary to fully assess the situation.

Read: 10 Things You Don’t Know Are in Your Crawlspace

Basement Care

Much like your attic, your basement requires special seasonal attention as well. Basements are prone to dampness and insects and need to be ventilated properly. If you spot cracks in poured-concrete walls, find insect tunnels in any wood framing, or suspect other issues, you may need to call in a professional to keep your basement safe.

A new season means a new list of maintenance projects. Stay ahead of the curve by checking in with your home and catching potential issues before they get out of hand and cost you serious time and money. While many aspects of this list can be done by you, the homeowner, there are professionals to help you assess situations and perform more in-depth maintenance if need be. What’s on your spring cleaning list?

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10 Things You Don’t Know Are In Your Crawl Space

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

Few people have the desire to go and explore the dark underbelly of the home that hides beneath their floorboards. And why should they? Most crawl spaces are bare dirt and exposed ductwork, with scarcely the room to crawl about, much less walk with ease. Unfortunately, this lack of easy accessibility results in many homeowners forgetting about their crawl spaces entirely—a mistake that can sometimes cost thousands of dollars.

With that sobering fact in mind, let us set out to learn about what 10 things you are likely to encounter in your crawl space—and what you should do about each one.


If you are like most homeowners, you are likely to have a bare dirt or rock crawl space. Perhaps once, long ago, there had been a vapor barrier and insulation installed, but those years are long past and only the remnants of that insulation and plastic protection remain. In this case, you’ve got a lot of dirt, dust, and possibly feces to deal with.

What to do with dirt:

The floor of your crawl space should have a proper vapor barrier installed. This is most usually composed of thick sheets of plastic that are secured to the floor. This prevents the buildup of moisture in your crawl space, a condition which causes mold growth to invariably be a factor. If you can see dirt in your crawl space, it’s time to have someone come in and cover that up.


Many of your home appliances run out through the crawl space area. Washers, dryers, and plumbing pipes are often all to be found running along the ceiling of the crawl space, to be vented or piped to the outdoors or external holding tanks. Ductwork for the home heating and cooling systems are also often to be found here.

What to do with ductwork:

When you have exposed and poorly insulated ductwork in your crawl space, you run the risk of a) losing energy and increasing heating or cooling costs b) allowing excess moisture or temperature changes into your crawl space and increase the risk of developing mold, or c) allowing crawl space critters and invaders to damage your ductwork and diminish the air quality of your home.

If you have exposed and poorly insulated ductwork in your crawl space, it’s important that you call in professionals to properly insulate and protect these expensive and important parts of your home. Insulating around ductwork and piping is considered a portion of the task that our crawl space insulators perform whenever insulating a crawl space.

3.Plumbing Pipes

All of your home plumbing will often make it’s way through a section of your crawl space before being funnelled outside to your septic tank or into the sewer system. These pipes are usually heavy duty, and leave most homeowners unconcerned about their safety. In actuality, these pipes still require maintenance and care. The changes in temperature that they experience during the warmest and coldest months as water flows through them can cause condensation. Condensation and the increase of moisture in the air all too often leads to mold infestations.

What to do with pipes:

It’s best to have plumbing pipes be treated with the same care that your ductwork should receive—proper insulation. This will protect the crawl space from moisture and the pipes from any damage or corrosion.

4.Electrical wiring

Running along the ceiling and walls of the crawl space you may sometimes see electrical wiring. These cords, thickly coated in plastic, are the currents through which various aspects of your home’s energy will run. Keeping these safe from the gnawing teeth of crawl space invaders is important.

What to do with electrical wiring:

Keep electrical wiring snug against the boards and walls of the crawl space. Loose or low hanging wiring runs the risk of being snagged or caught on something as you maintain your crawl space. Additionally, it’s best if these wires are covered with the insulation that your crawl space needs to maintain the appropriate temperature and air quality of your home. Being out of reach of mice and other rodents is important, as these critters love nothing more than to nibble and gnaw.


Anyone with a crawl space will have noticed the various vents that are to be found along the bottom walls of your house. These vents allow for air movement and ventilation for your crawl space.

What to do with vents:

These are an important part of crawl space health, so it is important to be sure that the vents are not blocked. It’s also equally important to be sure that the wire mesh is secure, so that critters and bugs will not be able to get into the area and contaminate your home. Check all the vents of your crawl space to ensure that they are properly sealed and secure.


Insulation is one of the most important parts of your crawl space. If you peer down there and see nothing but bare beams and dirt, you’re in trouble. Up to 40% of your air comes up from the crawl space. You can lose up to 45% of your home’s heating and cooling energy through non-insulated crawl spaces. Non-insulated crawl spaces are more likely to incur mold growth and attract insects, rodents, and other crawl space critters.

What to do with insulation:

Keeping your crawl space well-insulated is a big deal. It will save you money on energy bills, and save you thousands on possible future damage to the crawl space area. The cost for good crawl space insulation is far less than all of the future costs and wasted energy bills. Call our crawl space insulation service to have your crawl space cleaned and insulated.

7.Vapor Barrier

Your vapor barrier is an important tool to maintaining the health of your crawl space and your family. Crawl spaces that are protected from excess moisture are less likely to develop mold or allow dangerous crawl space invaders into your home. Vapor barriers protect not only your crawl space, but ultimately, your entire home.

What to do with vapor barriers:

Have a professionally trained crawl space expert install your vapor barrier. While there is a large group of DIYers, crawl space safety is of high enough importance that, unless you are a professional handyman yourself, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to achieve the level of excellence necessary to truly protect your home. Our teams of crawl space insulators know exactly the best ways to install an effective vapor barrier, so make your appointment for a free quote before attempting it yourself.


Beams, heavy wooden or metal support structures, are what keep your home structurally sound. These foundational beams run vertically and horizontally through your crawl space structure. Keeping these important pieces of your home in tip top shape is absolutely vital.

What to do with beams:

Check your support beams and foundation walls every few months for indications of weakening (such as cracks) or for mold growth. Mold and moisture will weaken the structural integrity of your home dramatically. It’s also a safe bet that you should never, under any circumstances, simply cut out beams or boards that are ‘in your way’. While it might not be apparent to your eyes, that seemingly pointless beam may be holding your floor up.


You may notice a drain in the floor of your crawl space. In most cases, this is a sump pump, a water pump designed to carry any excess water away from the house in the case of a flood. Drains function similarly, allowing excess water to drain away a safe distance from the house, usually 6 feet or more.

What to do with a drain or pump:

These pumps should never be covered, and should be checked each year to ensure that they are still functioning correctly. Plugged drains or broken sump pumps will only do you harm when it’s flood season and you find yourself wading or crawling through water to investigate the problem with your pump.


It’s all too common that a homeowner pokes his head into his crawl space to discover a happy population of insects, mice, rats, squirrels, or even snakes! Getting these invaders out of your home can be challenging. There are times that calling pest control is advised over handling the situation yourself. Of course, if you are a DIY-er, here is some information on removing rodents and snakes from your crawl space—and preventing their return!

What to do with invaders:

Trapping and killing crawl space invaders can take some time to accomplish. In addition, there is also the aftermath of the critter war to consider—rodents and insects often leave a lot of damage behind them. Chewed or ruined insulation, ripped vapor barriers, and animal feces are commonly found after an infestation is eradicated. In our opinion, it’s far better to leave this clean up job to the professionals that have all the appropriate equipment and skills necessary to take care of the mess.

Having a clear understanding of what is in your crawl space will go a long way in helping you to protect it. Recognizing potential problems before they become serious, practicing proper maintenance, and knowing when to turn to the services of the professionals are all part of good home care. If you’ve found that any of the areas of your crawl space listed above are suffering, take your opportunity to catch it before it becomes a serious issue—call our office today.

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Home Performance: More Than an Energy Audit

Monday, May 26th, 2014

Forward thinkers understand Energy Auditing.  An energy auditor looks at your energy useage, your house and prescribes behaviors and equipment that will help bring down your total energy consumption.  What most people are confused on is what makes Home Performance different. A recent video by Corbett Lunsford of the Chicago Green Dream Group spells it out beautifully.

He gives his 4-3-2-1 of Home Performance.  He says there are 4 Elements to Home Performance:

  1. Heat Flow: What can I use to make my building more energy efficient or higher performing?
  2. Airflow & Pressure: Both can cause a myriad of problems in the house including indoor air quality, comfort and energy efficiency.
  3. Moisture: This will damage a building’s durability faster than anything else, is a major component in poor indoor air quality and can greatly affect comfort as well.
  4. Indoor Air Quality: If you have respiratory problems caused by poor indoor air, we need to take a step back from energy efficiency until we’ve ensured that the air in your home is safe to breathe.

3 Recommendations:

  1. Air Sealing (Air Ducts and Home): It is cheap, effective, doesn’t need to be maintained or replaced and uses no energy (zero operating cost!)
  2. Insulation: Largely ineffective without air sealing first!
  3. HVAC: Without the first two, replacing a furnace with a more efficient model is akin to driving a Prius on flat tires!

2 Systems in Home:

  1. Envelope: The Envelope is comprised of the Air Barrier (made complete by Air Sealing any holes), which is the windbreaker for your home and the Insulation, the sweater.
  2. HVAC: This stands for the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning systems in your home.  Water heating is included.

1 Goal: CONTROL. Energy Efficiency is a result of control.

The kicker here is that the only way to properly demonstrate control of a building is Home Performance Testing.  Things you can expect to gain from taking these 3 recommendations (as tailored to your house, concerns and budget) are increased comfort, lower utility bills, better indoor air quality, and a more durable home.  You also get confidence in your home performance contractor because they are the only ones that can PROVE the results they promise.

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