Springtime is here and you are enjoying the weather and eager to go places and do interesting things. In the process, you may want to think about these tips from a home architect. They will keep your house safer, healthier, and more energy efficient during the rest of this year.
Architect Home Tips for the Spring:
Architect Home Tips for this Season Include these 7 Things:
1. CLEARING DEBRIS AND EARTH FROM POST AND WALLS: Take a walk around your home, carefully inspecting the level of the ground around wooden posts and around your foundation walls. Make sure that no earth is directly contacting any wood on your house. Even normal pressure-treated wood isn’t prepared to deal with termite and other damaging effects of having organic materials, like dirt, contacting it for long periods of time. For carpenter ants and termites, having their nice, damp preferred environment of the ground in direct contact with the wood of your house would be like having some giants reaching into your house through your largest windows, giving you nice thick steak dinners, delivered to your supper table. So, use a garden trowel or flat trenching shovel and carefully scrape away any earth, leaves, mulch, straw, sod, or other materials that create a direct link from the ground to your wall siding, wooden posts, and other wooden elements on your house.
2. MAKE SURE THERE IS A SUBSTANTIAL VERTICAL OFFSET DOWN TO THE GROUND FROM THE LEVEL OF YOUR INTERIOR FLOOR: Keep that shovel out that was discussed in the first tip. You may still need it. If the earth around your house isn’t at least 8″ below the bottom of your wood framing and at least 6″ below wood siding, you need to take a shovel and cut your grade down around your house and make that happen. The International Residential Code (IRC) 2006 edition (soon to be replaced with the upcoming 2009 edition) calls for this under sections R319.1.2. & 5. Otherwise, all of your siding would need to be pressure treated, along with your floor framing. The reasons the IRC requires this offset is: a) to keep your home well above convenient access for bugs that could eat your home, and b) to keep the wood portions of your house well above water, like rainfall that could rot the wood. If you need to do this, remember to slope the earth down and away from your home for at least 5′ or more, making sure that at the lower edge of this area that the water can drain by gravity away from your house.
3. REPLACE THE FILTERS IN YOUR AHUs: Your Air Handler Units are the part of your HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, and Air-Conditioning) equipment, typically inside your house that draws the air in from your living space and passes it through a filter, then runs it through the furnace or fan coil unit, then back through the ducts and into your house. Most people have paper or some other type of media filters. Personally, I like to recommend that my clients go with a filterless system that uses an electronic “filter” that zaps the dust particles, meaning that you have no filters to remove or clean. You also have the cleanest air possible in a residence. If you are like most homeowners and do have the paper type of filter, chances are that you have not changed out your filter in several months during the winter. This probably means that your filter is dirty and needs to be changed. I recommend that you consider an Ultra Allergen 1250 performance rating filter with an electrostatic charge. This filter system gathers the particulates from your air better than the cheapest bottom-line filters which don’t clean your air nearly as well.
Also, if your house has been around for perhaps 10 to 15 years, you may wish to consider this tip: Engage a professional duct cleaning service in your area. You will be amazed at what they find in your ducts. We have seen 10-year old sandwiches and half-filled coke cans, left by workmen whom I suppose thought they were being funny. This is the stuff of Legionnaire’s Disease, so it is no laughing matter. Dust and food debris become sustenance and a breeding ground for bugs, bacteria, and other molds. Then, they are rocketed through your ductwork, where they can be inhaled by you, your spouse, and your children. So, consider having the interior of your ducts professionally cleaned every decade or so. They can also spray disinfectant in your ducts to help keep them cleaner for a longer time. You may wonder how the duct cleaning pros do this. They have semi-rigid vacuum hoses connected to suction fittings that they can extend into your ductwork and apply pressure from the point of entry to reach down into your ducts for several feet. They will typically remove your supply air grilles first to gain access.
We hope that these tips for your house from a leading residential architect prove helpful. We will be adding to this list of tips in the future. Please contact us if you would enjoy seeing some particular subjects covered that we may not have addressed in the past. We are here to help people obtain excellent house designs and once they are built, to help you receive the greatest satisfaction from your residential ownership experience. Just share with us what information you are curious about and we will try to address those issues as soon as we can. Thanks for your input.