Crawl Space

Most homes have them some do not. You may have a basement or be on an on-grade slab. To a certain extent this will pertain to basements that were built say 30+ years ago. Not so much now as there are very good waterproofing systems and methods that are required to be implemented when building new homes.

As a homeowner you need to inspect your crawl space at least once maybe twice a year. With a basement this is much easier in that you can walk around as opposed to crawling and possibly slithering in a crawl space, and basements usually have overhead lights which make this inspection easy. Crawl spaces should have lights installed there also to aid in this inspection over and above the required service light for mechanical equipment and such. Inspection may reveal a water intrusion from the exterior that is not readily visible because of plantings and mulch built up over the years through landscaping. Gutters can get clogged or broken. The yard can potentially slope back to the home instead of away. A hose can be left on to slowly drip drip drip without you knowing it. In the extreme this water can cause erosion of the footing under the foundation causing cracks and the foundation and interior wall surfaces. A small crack in the house may lead to a larger problem that could easily have been found early by just looking.

Less likely would be a pipe coming loose. Water pipes are usually pretty quick to find since you will hear water running or waste pipes too as there will be an odor associated with this disconnection. Slow drips or slight leaks are the ones to look for. Having the crawl space covered in a 20 mil or thicker poly will aid in this since puddles will form instead of being soaked up by the ground below. Kitty litter can be an affective way of cleaning up bulk waste (we had the kitchen sink pipe come loose after a clog was cleared by a drain snake and noticed an odor several days later after many a grind of the disposal sending leftovers to the waste facility) that may have escaped.

Other items may include running another phone line or outlet for Grandma’s newly acquired tiffany lamp and having a well lit crawl may keep your cost down because it makes the job easier.

Don’t forget the crawl space it is part of your home just like the exterior that everybody gets to see.

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Mechanical Space

When I started writing this I was using the acronym HVAC for Heating, Ventilating, and Cooling. Since none of the equipment ventilates the areas that it conditions I am going to just call it HaC for Heating and Cooling

I prompted my Wife that the home we now own was the right one to purchase partially because the heating and cooling equipment is within the building envelope. It was built in 1954. Is full masonry construction and has old leaky windows. Having the HaC equipment within this envelope is a situation that rarely happens in new construction. Something that I discovered later and to my dismay I had abandoned is that each room of the home had a supply and a return in it. Interestingly the supply is in the center of the home and the return was at the exterior wall. Both of these are at floor level which is not generally accepted these days but we often still feed from the floor and return under a staircase which is generally low in the wall. Or in the case of second floors is fed from the ceiling and returned from the ceiling.

Today we supply over or below exterior openings since these are usually cooler or warmer depending on the season and through a process called the stack effect the warmer air moves to the top or the cooler air moves to the bottom creating convection in this area that helps to mix the air. (I would assume this is fairly localized and does not mix all the air in the room well.) In my case we abandoned the floor returns and placed a sealed duct return in the attic to the HaC equipment in the mechanical room. This allows for the air to be moved from floor to ceiling thus helping to even the temperature throughout the space. New construction HaC equipment is relegated to crawl spaces and attics. Generally this unconditioned space is either extremely hot or relatively moist in relation to the surrounding environment.

In the former the air-conditioning has to cool that 140 degree attic air before it can cool the air in the home. On top of that cooling is a process of removing moisture from the air, so unless the system is sized right and allowed to run for extended periods of time it will not remove latent and occupant moisture from the air and therefore not cool. The crawl space system may have an easier time of conditioning the air in its environment but it has the unenviable task of keeping all that dirt, grime, and possibly mold associated with crawl spaces out of the air-stream. This in and of itself is the best reason to seal duct work in the crawl space.

Conditioning the crawl space helps with the ducting problem and goes a long way to mitigating moisture and other contaminants in the crawl space environment. This also will allow the equipment to generally only work with conditioned air and will have an easier, read equipment sustainability, time of maintaining the temperature set at the thermostat.

Housetrends Greater Richmond, VA

One of C.L. Shade’s Designer Homes was featured on in their Feb./Mar. 2009 magazine. The article, Life In The Fast Lane by Lee Rhodes, can be found on pages 49-54.

The following is an excerpt of the article and a link for those interested in reading the full article:

Life In The Fast Lane by Lee Rhodes

A sleek interior paired with envious riverfront views create the ultimate contemporary home.

Bill Barnes has an enthusiasm for automobiles.The purr of an engine puts a smile on his face, not unlike the smile he gets when he walks into his remarkable kitchen. In fact, many components of his kitchen share similarities with luxury automobiles.

With its metallic mix of textures and shiny surfaces and its unique combination of traditional and contemporary elements, the kitchen sets the tone for the rest of this spectacular home.

Lure of the James

For years, Bill lived two miles from his current residence, vowing never to move unless given the opportunity to live on the James River. “Sometimes you get what you ask for,” he says with a laugh. [Read full article here.]