June 1995 Edition

Is Your House Energy Efficient?

We are going to build a new home this summer and we would like to find out how to make our new house more energy efficient. Will you please tell us how to improve our old house also?         
The U.S. Department of Energy now recommends a higher amount of insulation for Atlanta, which is in zone 6 of the national energy zones. This means that all ceilings next to the attic in homes with electric heat should use R-38 insulation; with gas heat you should use R-30.


The exterior walls should have an R-19 rating, which means in a 3 1/2" stud wall you will need to use R-13 or R-15 fiberglass batts with appropriate insulated sheathing. Also, using a house wrap will cut down on the amount of air infiltration through the walls. The floors over unheated basements or crawl spaces should use R-19. The new Georgia Energy Code, which went into effect as of January 1994, does not require quite as much, however I feel it is  better to have more than not enough. If you are currently living in a home with less that 6" of insulation in the attic or no floor insulation over an unheated space, it would be wise to add additional insulation. A good time to tell if the attic is insulated properly is during the winter, when it snows just a little. Look at the roof and see if the snow sticks. If it does, your insulation is working. If it does not you are loosing too much heat through the attic and you need to add more insulation.   
Let's take a look at other ways to conserve energy. According to the chart, we lose 38% of our heat through air infiltration. This means through cracks in the insulation, siding, window trim and door trim. You can help reduce this by caulking with a good quality siliconized acrylic caulk or filling large holes with an expandable foam sealant.            
Unfinished basement walls are the next area to look at. I would recommend adding a 2x4 stud wall around the perimeter of the basement and installing a minimum of 3 1/2" of R-11 fiberglass batt insulation. Be sure to run the wall all the way to the underside of the upper floor joist.           
 If you have single pane doors and windows, you may be losing heat through the exposed glass. If you do not want to go to the expense of replacing them with more efficient insulated glass, then just add storm windows and doors. This will provide a barrier of air between the two and become a better insulator. The least you should do is inspect and replace faulty weather-stripping around all exterior doors and windows.           
We must not forget summer also. Basically the same insulating guidelines apply. The only difference is that we want to reduce heat gain. The attic provides an excellent source of heat gain if not vented properly. Continuous ridge vents are the best, because they sit at the peak of the heat and require no power to operate.           
Family habits that waste energy include forgetting to turn off lights, setting the thermostat unnecessarily high in winter or low in summer and setting the water heater temperature too high. Most of the local power companies will provide an energy audit and recommend energy saving tips. Just contact Consumer Affairs or ask to talk to an Energy Auditor and they will let you know what is available. If you are going to build, I suggest purchasing a copy of “If You Build A House With High Energy Costs, It’s Your Own Cotton Pickin’ Fault” by Doug Rye. It sells for $19.95 and can be ordered by calling 1-800-779-8101. 

 Does Your Home Need To Meet Current Codes Before Selling?

Do we need to bring our house up to the current code standards before we can sell it?
There has been a lot of confusion recently on whether you need to bring your home up to current building code standards before you can sell it.
According to the 1992 Cabo 1 & 2 Family Dwelling Code, under Article R-116, your home only needs to meet the code that was in effect when it was built, provided nothing in the home is dangerous to life. For example; all new garages must be separated from the residence and its attic by installing 1/2" gypsum board or equivalent applied to the garage side. If this was not required when your home was built, then you are not required to meet the current code.
The American Society of Home Inspectors, (ASHI), the national organization that wrote the standards that most professional Home Inspectors use, states that Inspectors are not required to report on compliance or non-compliance of governing codes, ordinances, restrictive covenants and statutes including local building codes. It is practically impossible for anyone to know all of the different codes and revisions that were in effect when each home was built. Only new homes are inspected for code compliance. Therefore, on any item that is not life threatening, the Home Inspector should only suggest that certain improvements be made to the residence.
However, it is a selling feature, for example, to upgrade the attic insulation, add smoke detectors on each floor or install GFCI electrical outlets around all wet areas. All buyers are looking for a good investment and should be realistic that an older home may not have all of the current upgrades of a new home and that all homes require maintenance.

Carpet Padding

When we went to look at new carpet, we received conflicting advice from the salespeople about the carpet pad. Which is the better padding, a waffle-shaped all rubber pad or urethane foam? What do the weight ratings mean?
Carpeting expert Glenn Revere recommends a smooth-surfaced urethane foam pad called “bonded” or “rebonded” urethane.
Waffle pads are typically made of latex and clay and will deteriorate faster than urethane foam. Over time, the waffle padding will flatten out and your carpet will feel as if it’s loose on the floor.
The weight rating is a measure of the density of the pad.
The more a pad weighs, the denser it is and the better it will hold up to foot traffic. When choosing a foam pad, squeeze it between your fingers. A good quality pad will not flatten completely and when you let go, it will instantly return to its original shape.

If you have a question, change of address, comment, home tip or would like to send Home Tips to your clients, send your letter to Home Tips, Christian Building Inspectors, Inc., 3697 Habersham Lane, Duluth, Georgia 30096. You can E-Mail your questions to us at rodharrison@christianbuildinginspectors.com. We reserve the right to edit questions for length.

Standard Inspection Price List

 Homes/Condos $150,000 And Less: $200.00

Between $150,000 - $250,000: $225.00

Between $250,000 - $350,000: $250.00

Over $350,000 Call For Quote

(Single Family Homes In Metro Atlanta Area/Prices May Vary Due To Age Or Location)

Quote of the Month

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”

- Elmer Letterman

A Tip Of The Hat To:

Gene Ray

Century 21/Holley Realty

Decatur, Georgia

**** Thank You****