What did you say was in my house? 3 Energy Audit Show-Stoppers
At BetterBuildngs for Michigan, we are lucky to work with a great team of energy advisers – women and men dedicated to their trade and to helping people save energy. Yet, as good as they are, sometimes they come across situations that require some additional resources to help you make your home more efficient—so let’s see what they might encounter during a home assessment:
1. Hazardous Materials
Vermiculite, asbestos, and mold are just a few things that can stop an assessment in its tracks and will definitely prevent the energy team from running a blower door test.
A: Well, if the material is disturbed (by the blower door test), it can get in the air and the particles can be a breathing hazard to your family.
Once the material has been identified in the home, the next step is to allow the adviser to remove a sample for testing. The sample is sent to a reputable lab and based on the results you and the adviser can determine whether or not to proceed with the assessment. The lab can usually perform this test for a fairly low cost!
Mold can occur indoors or outdoors, as growth is encouraged by warm and damp conditions. Some molds are simply unpleasant but some can be hazardous to your family’s health, too. If the adviser discovers there’s mold growth in your home, they will let you know and help you determine if you can clean up the mold and fix the water problem or whether you will need professional remediation. Together you and the energy adviser will determine if the assessment should continue.
2. Gas leaks or ventilation
The energy team will check all your gas appliances to ensure that there are no gas leaks or carbon monoxide emissions. During the inspection, if the adviser discovers a gas leak they will mark it, notify tyou, showyou where the leak is coming from, and recommend that you contact the local utility in case the gas needs to be shut off.
In most cases, the utility representative will arrive while the energy team is on site and will work with you and adviser to provide a temporary solution, until you can contact their equipment installer for repairs. We have also been able to detect if the furnace is not properly venting, which can cause fumes to be circulating in the home.
A homeowner in Rosedale Park was very grateful to the energy team who identified a gas leak, she then contacted the local utility and they came within minutes, worked with the adviser to temporarily stop the leak and the homeowner was able to contact her furnace contractor to make the needed repairs. Another Woodbridge community homeowner had their furnace venting back into the house, the adviser showed the homeowner the problem and he was able to get the needed repairs.
3. Major Home Rehabbing
While we would love to help everyone, our program only works if your home is livable. This means no windows are broken or missing; the roof, walls, and doors are intact (exterior and interior); and utilities are turned on and functioning. You might think this goes without saying, but you’d be surprised! We love that you are rehabbing a home, bringing it back to a liveable condition and want to make it energy efficient, but we cannot perform an assessment on a gutted home or even one that is missing drywall in some places.
As outreach managers we are here to help you, so if you have any questions about whether your house is eligible please don’t hesitate to ask.
We’ve identified some online resources for additional information on some of the home hazards in this post:
- For more information on vermiculite/asbestos check out this link US Environmental Protection Agency
- Here is some information from the US Environmental Protection Agency on mold and moisture, and from the Centers for Disease Control
- If you suspect a gas leak, contact your local utility immediately: (Click on the links for additional information)