Arriving, immediately I heard, "My cook top is cold, and so am I when I stand in front of it."
When I get to a house for a one-year warranty inspection I ask what things are going on that they want me to investigate. I usually get an earful!
She went on. "Last week when it was really cold the metal all over the cook top actually had condensation on it!"
Air blew out of the exhaust vent, and no cold air was coming in, meaning that both of the flaps were functioning correctly.
So what gives? Well, I knew immediately. We have an insulation problem! I have seen it before.
But how can you show a builder that there is an insulation problem without cutting into the wall?
With a thermal camera! That would be a home inspector Best Practice!
This is a cinch.
For the purposes of this blog, I am using yellow and orange to demonstrate warmer temperatures and lavender, blue and purple to demonstrate cooler temperatures.
The orange framing on the top of the image is the kitchen exhaust hood.
The fan is center, and on top.
You are looking at the exterior wall of the house, above the cook top.
Apparently, in order to install the exhaust fan tubing to the outside, the installer removed a section of insulation between the drywall and the siding. You can clearly see that the space between two studs is void of insulation.
They removed the insulation from about two feet above the cook top all the way to the ceiling, installed the fan tubing, and never replaced the insulation.
WEIRD YOU SAY? NO, THIS IS VERY, VERY COMMON.
And, with the thermal image, it is indisputable that the insulation is missing. That purple spot is 42F. The air temperature outside is 35F.
Can the builder argue with this homeowner that the wall is not cold? That the cook top is not cold? That cold cannot be felt near the cook top when it's cold outside?
Can the builder argue with a thermal image that buttresses the homeowner's complaint that all of this cold is happening?
How can this be fixed without removing the cabinet, the exhaust hood and a bunch of drywall?
The smart insulator will simply cut a 2" hole in near the ceiling, right in the middle of those studs void of insulation. And blow some in! The small hole is easy to repair.
What's the best insulation for this application? Probably blown-in cellulose. That is simply chewed-up newspaper, treated with boric acid (so bugs won't eat it), and when blown in it will completely fill that cavity, and provide terrific insulation.
Blown-in cellulose has an R-value of 3.5-3.7 per inch! That would gain the desired R-13 inside that space. Blowing fiberglass puffs into that space will provide about 2.2-2.5 per inch in R-value. Not so good!
My recommendation: when rooms or areas are hot or cold, there is a reason! And most often the reason is due to insulation - and the lack thereof. What's the best way to investigate that kind of an issue? By calling an experienced home inspector with a thermal camera! And remember, thermographers are all really cute.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560