The Home Maintainance/Improvement Thread
Someone was complaining in the shout box about his high energy bills this summer and I thought I'd give you all some simple things that almost anyone can do to help lower their heating and cooling costs perhaps thousands of dollars a year for a few hours of time and 50 to a 100 bucks of materials.
First I will deal with what is commonly called a Dual Pak roof mounted F.A.U. (forced air unit). This is a combination Furnace and A/C in one package.
This all should be done early in the day before your roof is hot enough to fry an egg, and your attic could cook a roast.
I am going to explain how to visually inspect and repair/seal any leaks in your duct system for your Furnace and Cooling system.
Turn on the blower to your unit at the thermostat in the house. Get on the roof and feel around the base of the unit where it connects to the plenum and curve.
Some units sit directly on top of the plenum and others have a curved metal box coming out of the attic connecting to the FAU.
If you feel air leaking around the unit, you can seal it up with Butyl Tape, availible at home improvement stores or a HVAC supply store.
Next open the cabinet on the opposite side from where the heater and a/c condenser is. (sometimes you will need to open both side of the unit to access both the return and supply air ducting that come into unit. You should be able to see the end of the metal boots inside there. These will be 18 to 24 inches in diameter each.
make sure that the metal tabs are all flattened down and sealed either with a mastic material or tape. If not, seal them. Close up your cabinet.
Next, go into your attic. This is the awful part especially if you can't stand up in your attic. With the blower fan running, look around from the opening, and if it is a calm day, see if you can notice any cob webs moving in the attic. If not, your duct system in the attic is probably seal well enough. If you can, I'd go into the attic and visually inspect the two main ducts coming through the roof and feel for air. Do the same if possible to all the smaller branches of duct work at all connections and wyes. If you feel air, use the butyl tape to seal it up.
Duct material will vary but the most common is a flexible plastic ducting. They have an inner and outer sleeve so make sure both sleeves are connected firmly to the metal connecting duct or regester boots. Others are ridged metal duct, and sometimes in older homes they can be a fiber glass box.
Seal any leaks you find with your butly tape.
Note, older homes build before the 60's may have what looks to be a grayish paper covering the metal or fiber glass ducts. don't mess with them as there is a good chance this is an asbestos material. It is ok to be up there and will not harm anyone as long as it is not disturbed.
Wear good shoes that won't slip and wear a dust mask or respirator while in the attic.
If you want to get real sexy, you can open your return grill, where the filter goes, and make sure that boot is sealed well too. Also, you can pull off your supply air registers, and caulk around where the metal boot comes though the ceiling or walls.
If you have a closet, unit sitting on a wooden platform, I can go into that at a later date. Let me know.
This is a really big Bang For Your Buck simple and inexpensive repair you can do yourself, and like I said, you are paying to heat or cool that air, you want it all to get into the home and not leak out into atmosphere.
Also, change your damn air filters monthly.
I hope this helps, maybe this can be an on going thread. Repairing your duct work and insulating your attics is the best cost saving improvement you can do to your homes.
Be careful on your roof. Use the correct length ladder. If your roof is tile or shake, be extra careful, you could break shingles or tiles and be bitching to me about your roof leaking next winter.