A/C Booster fans and vinyl siding
5 August 2006
A. I donít know how old your house is but frequently the room framed over the garage was known as a ďbonusĒ room when houses were built 20 plus years ago and originally left unfinished. The heating and cooling lines to that room were usually a good distance from the source, normally located way down in the basement at the center or other end of the house. The underfloor area that is above the garage ceiling Iím sure has insulation in it as do the sidewalls. The windows are probably the same quality as what is in the rest of the house. There also may be two-- but itís not unheard of that you may only have one-- supply register in that room and no return air ducting, so the problem is one of air supply. If the rest of your house is being kept comfortabl e by your heating and cooling system then we can for the time being assume that the system is basically working as well as it can the way itís configured. Efficiency, on the other hand, is a different consideration and has more to do with how much electricity goes into the system for what you are getting out of it.
Talk to your HVAC service provider about installing a booster fan in the supply duct work to that room that only runs when the system is operating. A company called Fantech makes in-line ventilation fans that will fill the bill and not break the bank. That would be the simplest approach. I have seen folks install a split system wall hung heat pump unit in problematic rooms to provide a separate and controllable heating and cooling source. They have come a long way in improving that technology but be prepared to pay if you are tempted in that direction. As for just opening the windows, this past weekís near record heat and humidity would create a palace revolt Iím sure The girls wonít go near that room if you do that.
Q. I am getting ready to replace existing vinyl siding on my home in the next month or so, and I have a few questions. Our house was built in 1978, originally with aluminum siding. When I replaced with vinyl about 10 years ago, I don't think that there was any insulation put under it. Before investing in such a costly undertaking, I'd like a few questions answered, if you don't mind. Is double hem mounting the best way to go? Should we have 1/2 inch foam and Tyvek moisture barrier in combination? I f not, which is more energy efficient? Should all door and window openings have flashing? Should the color of the siding go all the way through? What thickness should the siding be? As you can tell, I'm a bit confused and would appreciate your reply. Thanks.
A. The way I would approach the job would be to use the Tyvek housewrap, which is more of a vapor retarder than a moisture barrier, directly over the houseís sheathing and the insulation, which comes in a fan-fold board, under the vinyl. The method of installation must be followed closely and the hem mounting allows tight nailing. The hem permits the product to expand and contract in response to temperature changes. Itís a mounting style thatís a bit more foolproof than normal vinyl siding attachment techniques. I would at the minimum use head flashing on all doors and windows especially if the windows and door brickmold and casing are wood. The ďJĒ channel must be cut and installed properly to help in this bit of water control.
As for the color and the thickness of the product, you want to be sure that the siding is ďCertifiedĒ by the Vinyl Siding Institute, the trade association that rides herd on product quality in the industry. Iíve seen vinyl siding in the style of sawn cedar shingles that looked so real I had to get out of my car and walk to the side of the building and put my hand on it to verify that it wasnít wood.
You can go the Instituteís website, www.vinylsiding.org, and download their PDF installation manual to be sure you are installing it properly. I strongly suggest you do that because of any of the problems with vinyl siding that I have seen, beyond putting a gas grille too close or whacking it with a golf ball, have been due to improper installation. Do the job right.