What Were They Thinking?

May 03, 2010
May/June 2010
A version of this article appears in the May/June 2010 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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Credit: Greg Labbé
I’m attaching a “What Were They Thinking?” photo. It’s of a ventilated crawlspace in the snow belt of central Ontario—Caledon East.

What does the picture show? It shows heating ducts, drainpipes, and potable water pipes on the ceiling of a crawlspace. The crawlspace is ventilated to the outside through a pair of opposing foundation grates on either side of the side addition to allow for cross ventilation. The contractor/architect unfortunately delineated the thermal boundary at the main-floor floor cavity, orphaning water pipes and heating/cooling ducts. In fact, the furnace was in that unconditioned crawlspace, which is effectively outside! Adding insult to injury, the house had two identical side additions flanking the central heated basement in the middle. Both these crawlspaces were accessible through flimsy access doors that met municipal code for access. These areas suffered from massive heat loss in winter (“My humidifiers aren’t working,” she said), massive infusion of excess humidity in summer (both from the sweating clay crawlspace floor and open vents) and lots of condensation and mold issues!

Greg Labbé
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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