December 1994 Edition

Winterize The Attic?

Is it okay to cover our roof turbines and seal the gable vents in the attic during the winter to conserve the attic heat?

To put it simply, No! You ventilate the attic for two main reasons: to remove the excessive heat during the summer months and to remove moisture all year long.

The moisture can build up in the winter and attack the framing and plywood decking causing mold and mildew to form. If left for a long enough period, it will eventually cause wood decay. The moisture can also reduce the efficiency of your attic insulation by 35%.

The best way to conserve heat is to insulate the attic with enough fiberglass blown insulation or enough fiberglass batt insulation to achieve a rating of R-30 for gas heat and R-38 for electric resistance heat. This will keep the heat where it belongs, inside you house-not your attic.

Crawl Space Insulation?

I want to insulate the floor over my crawl space. How much insulation is needed and how do I install it?

In the Atlanta area the U.S. Department of Energy recommends that you use R-19 for floors over unheated crawl spaces.

The first thing I would do is to seal all openings in the floor with an expandable spray foam insulation. Be sure to seal around all plumbing pipes, electrical wires and heat ducts. This will cut down on the air flow. Next use 6 1/4” fiberglass batt insulation with a vapor barrier. Cut the insulation to length and install it with the vapor barrier (paper side) towards the plywood subflooring which is the heated area. Hold the insulation in place by using wire insulation supports which are wire rods that are precut for 16” or 24” joist spacing. You can also use wire and crisscross under the joist or even wood strips tacked to the bottom of the floor joist.

Since you will be working with the insulation side facing you, be sure to wear proper protective gear such as work gloves, long sleeve shirts, protective glasses and a dust respirator.

Also, close the foundation vents in the winter. If the vents cannot be closed, try to seal them with a piece of insulation board or plywood. Remember to open the foundation vents in the summer to help air out the crawl space.

What’s A Cord?

We are planning to build a firewood rack next to our house and we only have one question. How big is a cord of wood?

First of all, do not build the rack next to your house. This will provide an excellent way for termites to enter your home. Move the rack at least a foot away.


A cord of wood is 128 cubic feet. If you cut your logs 2 feet long (which is the standard length) the rack could be 16 feet long by 4 feet high.

Christmas Lighting Safety?

Christmas is the time of year when we pull out lights and all types of decorations to celebrate the season. It is also the time of year that we have many fires associated with Christmas trees and lighting. Here are some tips.

Make sure the lights you use are labeled “UL-listed”. Lights rated for outdoor use can be used indoors or outdoors, but do not use lights rated for indoor use outside. All UL-listed indoor light sets will have a green UL label and outside light sets have a red one.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions that came with your holiday decorations.

Replace any electrical decorations that have broken or cracked sockets, frayed wires or loose connections.

When hanging light sets around the outside of your house, use only plastic electrical staples to hold the wires in place. Do not use nails or metal staples.

Do not run too many lights on one circuit. A typical 15 amp household circuit can handle up to 1,400 watts. Do not forget that anything already running on the circuit counts in the total watts. The packaging the lights came in should give you the number of watts per light or light set. If you do not have the package, check the tag on the light string.

Do not leave the lights on when you go to bed or leave your house.

If you still have the large lights that get very hot, consider replacing them with the miniature lights that do not get as hot (you will save on your electric bill too).

When you run extension cords outside, make sure they’re rated for outdoor use and that none of the plugs are lying on the ground. Connections that are lying on the ground could allow moisture inside, causing a short.

When you trim the tree with lights and decorations be sure the main extension cord you use is large enough to carry the load. Do not plug four or five light cords into an extension cord that is the same or smaller size because you will overload the capacity of the cord. Always try to use a larger size or gage cord. If you’re not sure if it is adequate, just touch the cord after it has been in use for 20 or 30 minutes to see if it feels warm or hot to the touch. If it is, then you will need to replace it with a larger gage extension cord. The undersized wire could heat up enough to melt the insulation and cause a fire.

We hope each and every one of you have a very safe and enjoyable holiday season.

Q&A Source: Handyman Magazine.

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 We reserve the right to edit questions for length.

Thought For The Season

Christmas began in the heart of God. It is complete only when it reaches the heart of man.

A Tip Of The Hat To:

All The People Who Referred Us In 1994

**** Thank You****