Home Diagnosis Ep1: Scientific Home Improvement feat. High Performance Tiny House on Wheels

Home Diagnosis Ep1: Scientific Home Improvement feat. High Performance Tiny House on Wheels


Coming up on home diagnosis homeowners like Ava often think that the problems are something that they are it’s so cold here But if I jack up the heat, it’s hot everywhere else. The windows are actually sweating I mean, we just may have to get no windows that looks like there’s not even insulation right there We can assume all of them are leaking We renovated this and when you get a renovation, it’s not a 100% guarantee that it’s actually awesome That is a problem. That kills me this whole room is really gonna tell a story home. Diagnosis is made possible by CPS products, provider of indoor air quality products and test tools FLIR maker of infrared thermal cameras for homeowners and building professionals and by Hayward score and healthy indoors magazine and by generous support from these underwriters and by viewers like you Thank you Welcome to Home Diagnosis. A lot of people are afraid that when they buy a renovation It’s gonna be all lipstick and not holistic. luckily You don’t have to worry there are tools and techniques to test and find out what to do in those cases. In Chicago we found a beautiful renovation that exemplified a lot of these problems, but also created a lot of opportunity Hi, I’m Corbett. And I’m grace since we met we’ve been partners in everything in work in life and in love Fast forward to now we’ve created careers in home testing building science and started a family We also built the tiny lab to give people thinking about their home’s problems. Dynamically We use scientific testing to diagnose houses problems because more than comfort energy or safety It’s about gaining control of your home and with two cats two kids in 204 feet. We know this intimately Wow beautiful house on Tour we have homeowners reach out to us because they know that we’re coming and can help them with their problems Ava reached out to Us because she had problems with her newly renovated remodeled home Love the copper gutters Ava lives in a really nice part of northern, Chicago She’s got a family with kids and when you get a renovation It’s not a one had to present guarantee that it’s actually awesome All right, so come on into the kitchen cuz that’s where I’m having my major problem As beautiful as it is it gets so cold. I mean even when there’s steam coming in my face from the spaghetti and whatnot It’s so cold here. But if I jack up the heat, it’s hot everywhere else. That is a problem And you know, we did all these beautiful restorations as you can see Performance really is all about tuning homes so the homeowners who feel like their house might be out of tune feel like the air is stuffy or feels bad or there might Be moisture problems or comfort you have to put on a sweater to go into this room or you know Take off clothes to go into that room and essentially what we’re trying to do is make sure that everything in the home works exactly the way that you want it to not just the inventory of what’s Statically there when you look at it, but also the invisible dynamics behind everything starting about a month ago The windows started fogging up and I don’t know What that has to do it because just last year we got a brand new furnace and a new air conditioner So the windows are actually swaying, you know I’m a little worried about that because as beautiful as the windows are I really wanted to keep those old windows intact Yeah, I can see us in the corner. There’s a little bit of condensation still I mean, we just may have to get new windows We hear that a lot all over The states and I’m glad that you didn’t replace them before you call this cuz generally it’s actually not the windows Homeowners like a vile often think that the problems are something that they aren’t for example She felt that the windows might be causing some of these big moisture problems and comfort issues which becomes an issue for window Professionals because they might get blamed for something little system problems. All right. So let’s go to the bedroom. We’ll go upstairs. Why don’t we Yeah, oh yeah if you are hot now You’re cold exactly All right. Now, this is Mama’s room It used to be the attic but we built it so that my mom could stay in a nice comfortable place Yes, it’s a great concept. But unfortunately, I cannot get a comfortable temperature in here. We renovated this I mean we have done all this work to the entire house. It’s really cute magical tiny room this remodeled home in Chicago is Beautiful. There’s multiple floors Gables bump-outs But the more pretty stuff and the prettier the shape of the house The more there might be hiding inside of the structure and luckily it can’t hide anything in construction anymore there are tools and techniques for finding out exactly what happened in any renovation or home build so that we can absolutely pinpoint the problem and then prescribe specific steps to actually solve that this Joins to the Attic, but you can feel it. If you want to come over here. You can actually feel that it’s cold Treat room you did a good job Yeah, you should definitely be comfortable and we will prescribe the right Prescription to make this comfortable. Okay, great. I would be fantastic Well run the testing and we’ll be able to talk with you in about an hour to go. We’ve got all the information. Okay? Yeah, I think this whole room is really gonna tell a story sounds good Ava’s home had a couple specific problems first Her windows were giving her concern because there was moisture gathering on him. She had come problems in the kitchen she had cover problems in the Mother-in-law suite upstairs and what’s interesting about all of that is the home is what like we said So sprawling and big but also it’s tall and this is a four story home So we’ve got that mother-in-law suite on the very top floor connected with this side attic on the upper floor We’ve got the bedrooms a little cold on the first floor. We have the kitchen having comfort problems in the basement We’ve got the HVAC system Hart located there. And so we’re gonna want to test that too Most homes are gonna put up with at least two seasons heating season and cooling season And in either one of those you’re creating a rising or falling of air because warm air rises and cool air sinks So in the summertime You’re gonna have all of this cool air coming down and getting out of the house pressing against the bottom of the house at which point the house creates a vacuum at the top and then in the winter months on the bottom of the house you’re gonna have that same vacuum created and when all the warm air is trying to get out through the top and then Additionally the entire home as the system needs to be tested So the short of it was this house had problems on every single level which is why you want to do the dynamic holistic testing to really identify their source All right so right here what this is is it’s a combustible gas sniffer and The important thing here is we want to make sure that there’s no gas leaking and this thing would start screaming If there was gas leaking from any of these joints, which it’s not so that’s a good thing We’ve also got the combustion analysis going on so we can tell how much carbon monoxide is coming from the system and what the efficiencies of combustion and all that stuff is Monitoring some temperatures and some pressures and we’re also able to do a duct leakage test here so to see how much air That is being pumped into the ducts is actually coming out Not where we want it to so we can tell that there’s some duct leakage In the system, but that doesn’t necessarily tell us anything about the design of it so I think that we’re gonna want to see this is a five-ton air conditioner and this Duct is Tiny and so I’m just I don’t think that that’s built right even when you’ve tested hundreds of homes you still have to do the tests to actually know what’s going on because it Will surprise you and generally we always come up with about three big things that are gonna cause the performance problems for us people Yeah, the three big things that cause performance problems are air tightness Insulation and HVAC. That’s what we expected to see with this home and that is in fact what we found so now we’re testing for duct leakage and we want to know that all of the Air that we’re sending into the system is actually coming out where we want it to so I’m gonna turn some fog into this Baby and see what happens So what Corbett’s doing right now is using a theatrical Fogger to create fog to go up into the ducts system and see if we have any leakage And we’re already seeing a little bit of a haze up there. So we do know that some of the ducts are leaking This is not an energy efficiency problem. And this is where you’ll have. Somebody say the ducts don’t need to be sealed They’re all inside the house if ducts leak inside the house. It’s the same as plumbing leaking. It’s the plumbing for air So if it’s leaking out inside the walls and floors and not getting to the bedrooms where it belongs that’s not better I have to ask you a question. Are we gonna have to replace this? I think the leakage is the only thing that’s keeping this thing running at all because the furnace is so big But then they put a ductwork that’s too small onto this furnace. Right and the ductwork could actually stay I think this the ductwork could stay furnace can go That kills me I hate that I think our first reactions when we sell Avis home was that it’s beautiful it’s a really gorgeous home and following on the heels of that is always uh-oh because the more shapes there are stacked on top of each other the more Gingerbready or Victorian a house looks the more hidden spaces. They’re gonna be and therefore the more interactions that might not be intended There are gonna be between the heat bleed and the airflow and pressure and moisture and air quality in the home to create these performance Unto names it’s a lot like an orchestra Right, the more instruments you put there the more fine tune. They all have to be to make the song good It’s not just one person singing in a guitar That’s easy to do right but a whole Orchestra, you have to take a little bit more time to test and really understand the dynamics We’re not gonna make it so I’m gonna ring a instead, okay So this is the blower door it is the most important tool to use on any home This is the centerpiece of our tool kit Essentially what it does this move air from one place to another we’re moving here from the house to outside So we started out expecting to only move that much air But it turned out that we needed to remove this ring and move more air and finally move as much air as this fan could possibly move in the meantime while we’re moving the Air and that’s what the loud sound is. We’re monitoring it with this tiny computer, which is called a manometer so this is measuring the pressure in the house and the flow through the fan and it can do all kinds of calculations and things like that super cool So this is kind of one of the sexy pieces of gear that we use to help diagnose homes Yeah, baby Pick it up. So the blower door is essentially a Scientifically calibrated fan that we use to test the overall air leakage as just one giant number So if you were to add up all of the gaps and cracks in the house into one big hole We can know exactly how big that hole is That’s measured in CFM cubic feet per minute We can also test in the square inches of hole size and we can do things like test how many times per hour All of the air in the house is being exchanged when we run the test Okay, so at 4400 we’re seeing eight air changes per hour right and we want it to be five and said which would mean that all of The air in the house gets replaced five times if we rerun this for a full hour So we’re gonna grab a thermal camera and find the air leakage now bingo. All right All right, so we got the infrared camera we’re gonna figure out where We’re having these issues that we’ve made on our punch list to address the Comfort issue that she was also having up in the bedroom Exactly. Yeah, so and the garage is right next to this So we’re seeing a little bit of air leakage right there typical leakage from the corner right there Yeah, where it’s colder. The blower door has just ran in for a good long time So we’ve got the air in all of these cavities, right? So we activated all of the dynamic stuff So right there we can see some air leakage coming into the into the inside of that wall. Wait where you couldn’t see it necessarily there’s a little bit of Something going on weekends use the moisture meter on that – oh my gosh That looks like there’s not even insulation right there right here. There’s a whole big missing Uninsulated on air-sealed section right there. It’s plain as day and look at that light see the signature on that. Yeah recessed light Why are the can lights which are normally circular showing up a square, right? And that’s because they didn’t insulate around them which tells us just forensics Why’s that light fixture that’s recessed up into the ceiling is not Airtight and they were all installed at the same time during the renovation, right? We can assume that all of them are leaky So they’ll have air leakage through them all the time and on the top floor That means that we’ve got that major issue with the Comfort and now we’re thinking that’s quite possibly all of these brand new cans that have been in contact with insulation aren’t so we’ve got air leaking straight out of the attic which is causing the drafts and the comfort problems that she thinks is either windows or the air conditioning or furnace and which is also why the Condensation is gonna be happening. Okay in a lot of homes recessed lighting is easy because you can put it exactly where you want it and Get it right over a picture or a couch or whatever, but the problem is there are two different kinds of recessed lights There are ones that can be put in contact with insulation and there are ones that cannot touch an insulation Recessed lights are especially a problem in renovations because everybody loves recessed lighting. We don’t want to see stuff. That’s the same reason that people Try to put things into soffits so that they don’t have exposed ductwork things like that So every time you’re trying to hide something it’s there’s a trade-off right? You can’t get everything you want without any side effects So the recessed lighting side effect is air leakage and installation issues Generally, unless you pay attention to this and plan for it from the get-go and then you can get which one so, yeah We can see along the wall – there’s a little bit I’m gonna check it out a little bit further from that angle Definitely. So what Corbett is doing is after we ran the blower door We actually put a 20 mile-per-hour wind on every single side of the house basically to Push that warm air in against the cold air which lights up the thermography camera so we can see that right there There’s a whole missing bat of insulation and over on this side We had that whole full square which is gonna cause a lot of air leakage up into the bedroom that she was complaining about These are their simple things. This is a renovation and should have been fixed the first time What the metrics showed us is that the contractors thought that Ava wanted exactly what everybody else wants cheap Fast and easy and that’s not really what everybody wants especially when you’re buying a multi-million dollar home You want it done? Right and you want to make sure that it’s proven to work? All right, so markdown 60.1 CFM and 52.2 degree wet-bulb and Fifty-seven point four degree dry bulb and What is dry bulb beam? so the dry bulb and the wet bulb gives us how many BTUs basically are in this thing cuz it’s air conditioning delivers both dryness and coolness Since the system was ideally designed to deliver a certain number of BTUs out of this register We can know on the back end exactly how many BTUs are actually coming out of it because we’ve got that exposed ceiling and that Window right there. And so that is Evening out these losses right here So if that is delivering what it’s supposed to then it evens these out perfectly and the room stays completely comfortable Without you doing anything at all. So we are technically in an old attic right? Yeah this used to be the attic and then they finished it and what we want to know is whether they finished it finished it or Then cover it up a bunch of stuff. All right, cool. Let’s do it Alright so Looking for the moisture Detector in the tiny attic and you really learn to walk like this. I can spend a lot of my life like this Home performance problems can also have detrimental effects on your health. Yeah, we have the mother-in-law suite that is connected with this with an interior door Now one thing is you should be careful about any bedroom that is connected with one of these buffer spaces these hidden spaces Attics crawl spaces garages you spend a lot of time in that bedroom You sure do and also with the person who is spending time in this bedroom in this case is an older person whose? Immune system is not as strong and healthy. Yeah, 25 year old exactly respiratory system of the immune system Everything about this person is not what you would expect from a 35 year old fit Athlete which is what we expect a lot of people to be doing. So we’re putting kids in these rooms We’re putting older people their parents in these we want to make sure that they are systems which are already Potentially compromised from other illnesses are not going to be exacerbated by these problems that we’re introducing in our own homes. Oh You found your favorite Rio yeah good stuff All right, so I’m not picking anything up really that’s worrisome with this game. What about where the PVC pipes are? Excellent. That’s an air leakage problem for sure Would we be having any moisture issues over here with the flexpa where it goes up into the attic? Yeah. Sure That’s my concern right there. It’s weird and there’s a big chunk of drywall. That’s cut. Yeah yeah, and they should have cut a circle for duct work versus a rectangle, but That’s an easy fix. It’s true So what we’re looking for up here is we had some moisture problems and the homeowner Thought that it was a roof leak and a lot of times. It’s actually not a roof leak at all So we want to know for a fact whether the moisture is coming from outside in Or whether it’s generated from a hot moist air coming in contact with cold things and we have a giant air conditioning system up here So this is a perfect place where condensation could create little water problems that masquerade as roof leaks and they’re actually not Yeah, we definitely got puddling of moisture over there So yeah, it’s definitely where the insulation is rolled away from the ductwork It’s not anything to do with the roof at all at least in this section over here So we’ll check the rest of it to make sure why is the insulation pulled away from the ductwork? Do you think that happened when they were just installing and weren’t looking carefully that’s up here everyone except the hell mater so what’s really wacky about this is that we found through pressure testing then that room which is an attic room and it’s really not super clean is Totally inside the house. It’s as inside the house as this bedroom that we’re in right now So if there’s a room that’s that filthy inside your house. Are you worried about it? Yeah, you should be worried about the problem is that since the insulation is hidden? You’re not really aware of whether it’s in the floor Which means that that’s an outside room or in the ceiling which means it’s inside and it’s totally on the ceiling so the issue is now are they worms in your house inside or outside and you want all of them be either or and the only thing blocking that room from this bedroom is This tiny little door. So you’re breathing this in at night kids develop allergies easily from those dust mites. It’s not a good situation Welcome to the tiny lab the world’s highest performing tiny house on wheels and the home of the proof is possible to her Let me take you inside Some people think that you can’t have perfect control over home performance We designed and built a tiny lab to prove that that’s wrong I’ll remind you that we have never designed or built a house before so anybody who has done it a bunch of times can do A better job than we can this house is the four-three-two-one home performance thinking brought to life into physical form But tiny lab is 30 feet long tip to tail and unlike a lot of tiny houses that you’ll see on other TV shows This one is built to tour It comes back to the engineering and thinking it through with home performance. This cork floor was selected Not only for aesthetic beauty But also because of sound dampening we wanted the house to be quiet because essentially what we built here is a box Now upstairs, you can see the conditioning of the house heating and cooling very important. This is called a ductless mini-split It has no dots the dots as you’ll see in most of the episodes of home Diagnosis are kind of a big issue for a lot of people because they have to be designed properly every installed Probably they have to be sealed They have to be matched to the heating and cooling equipment If you get rid of the ducts, you get rid of a lot of the potential problems that you have so this thing is actually perfectly quiet it even has an infrared camera that is scanning the room at all times and Sending the cool air or the warm air to where it’s needed most so as far as lighting goes You’ll see in a lot of the home diagnosis tests that we’re doing that recessed lighting is an issue It’s basically little holes and the most important plane of your house, which is the top floor ceiling in this case We have lighting that could be thought of as recessed We’ve built out these soffits which are basically little kind of cavities that contain them That means that I actually have the full depth of insulation in my roof and I don’t have holes in my air sealing barrier I also did not put any electrical wiring or plumbing inside the walls of the exterior That’s because the walls are built to contain all of the stuff that I want inside my house and to keep out all the stuff That I don’t want in there. So I’m not using them to run a bunch of other things Also as far as lighting goes LEDs don’t create a lot of heat Which is a big thing energy efficiency is a thing this whole entire house can be plugged into one outlet in your house This house is designed to be just a grownup version of every house in America so that the performance can be controlled Well, we got they it was home we learned that she had some comfort issues and some moisture concerns So we approached it like we always do with testing first because we want to know what’s going on in the home as a system So we use the blower door. We use zonal pressure testing. We use the infrared camera we tested the HVAC with the combustion analyzer and the Tightness tester and even ran the theatrical fogger to actually see with our own eyes what was going on and we used all these tools And techniques to give Ava her own home diagnosis so that now she can have a prescribed Solution and know exactly what to do to make her home awesome Okay, so first off we have solved your problem what we found is twofold so one is that you’ve got some air ceiling and insulation issues that can be fixed and The second thing that’s really important understand is that there’s a secret that very few people even in the industry understand and that’s that bigger equipment doesn’t always mean better and what Corbett means by that is we found that your new furnace and AC is actually Twice the size that it needs to be we’re gonna prescribe air sealing and some insulation work in the attics So basically air sealing is kind of like a windbreaker, right if you’re wearing a sweater, that’s fine You’re it’s gonna keep you cozy. But if you step outside that winds gonna run right through it Same thing is happening in your attic and you definitely have kind of wind effects. It’s the house is dynamic, right? So there’s pressure is pushing on things the air sealing like wind breaker will actually make the insulation work better Just like it would make a sweater make you more cozy if you’ve got that air seal not So good news though big picture. You do not need new windows. So you have saved That is great news, I love that so basically we’re gonna take a team of professionals who know how that stuff works up into the attic and we’re gonna take some of the insulation out an air seal back behind that what should have happened this at the get-go and Finally we are going to recommend that you get rid of that furnace and get one. That’s half the size So it doesn’t fit your ductwork. It never goes through a full cycle and that’s why you’re seeing this condensation on the windows Wait why I just got that last year Yeah, it’s – it’s twice as big as it needs to be for the ductwork and for the house So when we put the new equipment in there, it actually fits the house. It’s tailored for the house So it’s tuned to everything So now you’re gonna have the quality of life that you actually wants to have in every single room in your house That’s us and Mama’s gonna be happy. Yes If you’re thinking of buying new home or renovation like Ava the probably work with an inspector But always be sure to work with a home performance professional so you get the dynamic testing you’re looking for so you can have the performance you want the offer you need and the comfort you desire Home diagnosis is made possible by cps products provider of indoor air quality products and test tools FLIR maker of infrared thermal cameras for homeowners and building professionals and by hayward score and healthy indoors magazine and by generous support from these underwriters and by viewers like you Thank you home Diagnosis is all about education Learn more about your own homes performance with our new online course for homeowners, and our proof is possible booklet You can find both at home diagnosis TV

27 thoughts on “Home Diagnosis Ep1: Scientific Home Improvement feat. High Performance Tiny House on Wheels

  1. Nice work. Particularly liked Grace in this episode. She managed to more than balance out Corbett this time. A quick followup would be a perfect wrapup.

  2. Glad to see it happening! Of course I want to see more details on the testing but this may be good to show a standard homeowner that there are testing options for these sorts of things.

  3. I hope you do a follow up. Great first show. Will keep watching. You make a great team, and can really see the time spent together. I chuckled a few times at how similar your speech patterns are. Makes me wonder if you guys stick to a script of just bullet point and go from there. Wish you and the family all the best in 2019. Ty from chicago.

  4. My least favorite part of testing homes is telling customers that their 1 year old HVAC system is too big for their house/ductwork. I run in to this at least 2x per week. Something needs to be done about HVAC contractors selling customers whatever they can, and require that they do proper sizing and design work. 3 of the largest HVAC contractors in our area do not perform Manual J, or Manual S calculations AT ALL! Looking forward to many more episodes of this, hope that this show gets to the average consumer, rather than just the building science community.

  5. Awesome footage, nice quality.
    Prograde service and sexy tools.
    Helpful content as always, I'd love to see more. thanks for being ninjas and always inspiring!!!

  6. Best production of any Home Performance show I have seen, keep it up and best wishes. Will this be airing on cable/streaming/pbs?

  7. GREAT WORK! As a HVAC contractor, I hear it all the time….."BIGGER IS BETTER". People need to hear and see the truth and understand that there is no magic standard number for sizing their HVAC equipment and no two houses are the same.

  8. so what happened? wheres the follow up? kinda got left hanging.
    also would have liked a better explanation of why the big hvac was causing the issues. (hvac is rare here)

    on the positive side it looks nice, nice filming, you looked really good and you highlighted some common issues. nice job!

  9. And what did the contractor say, when you told them they're incompetent. I'm sure they offered to fix it all for free right?

  10. Pretty confident this is the same problem I'm having with my house.

    Also I like how the cold-air return ducts in my home were not connected to anything going to the actual furnace.

  11. Thank you for posting on you tube. My local PBS (WVIZ) doesn't carry the show so Joe Medosch from Hayward Score led me here. Good show. I'm also a fan of John Bower books. Only bad moment was when I saw a Method and Mrs Meyers bottle near your sink. Anne Steinmann PhD has found hazardous pollutants. "Fragrance" and even "natural fragrance" is b.s. for the chemicals.

  12. Awesome work Corbett and Grace! I always hate telling clients that the equipment that they just installed or the work they just had done was not done well, but it happens all the time.

  13. Very interesting watching this as I'm a domestic energy assessor in the UK.

    I find home owners here saying the same things. Condensation on widows is usually down to high humility in kitchens/bathrooms, we don't often have HVACs in homes only extract fans, which people never turn on while cooking.

    Surface condensation such as that you found in the attic would likely be due to either insufficient heating to increase surface temperatures or inadequate insulation resulting in excess heat loss and thus reduce surface temperatures. I was surprised that you put this down to poor air tightness. Did the room even have heating in it?

    Surly removal of the over sized HVAC system is unnecessary, it would just run at a less efficient rate to a "correctly" sized system?

  14. Great job on the show. As always I want more. More details. More pictures. More verification. Etc. But you have done a great job of keeping it appropriate for the average home owner who may watch and learn from the show. Congrats!

  15. Find out why you're hearing an overuse/repeating of "actually", "basically", "obviously" and other words/phrases on facebook @ColePhoenixWolvesforHire. Allegedly.

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