TALKS BACK By Jon Eakes
Does our latest technology have a sensor to detect mould or mildew behind bathtub tiles, like a stud finder? It would save time, energy and effort, and we would be able to salvage the tile that surrounds our tub and kitchen. I will await your response on this matter before chipping away.
There is no simple device like a stud finder to identify growing organisms behind tile. Sorry about that! There are many lab and even DIY kits to detect mould spores in the air, but they are not recommended for use by other than trained lab specialists for the simple reason that they always detect mould and tend to panic a lot of people. That is because all these moulds exist in small quantities in the air we breath, indoors and outdoors.
Any such testing results must be evaluated for concentration, type and importance of the findings. One tool that can help a great deal in investigating the possibility of problems inside walls is a fibre optic scope. Even here you need to learn to interpret what you see through this little gadget, but it can often assure you that there are no signs of problems at all where you thought there might be. Check out www.provision100.com.
Woodstoves and energy savings
I am in the planning stages of a new energy efficient home. If I were to install a woodstove, would this effect the operation of the home's ventilating system? If so, should the woodstove have an outside combustion air system incorporated?
I am building an R-2000 home (2,000 sq. ft.) in Bancroft, Ontario. It will have an oil furnace. I want to add a zero-clearance wood burning fireplace for added heat and a cottage feel. What are the criteria for an R-2000 fireplace?
It is not so much a question of what the wood burning stove does to the operation of a ventilation system, but whether the ventilation system and any other exhaust fan or clothes dryer might be able to backdraft the stove. An outside combustion air source can help combat the problem but looking at the R-2000 requirements is probably the best way to approach air quality problems.
There are basically two criteria for wood burning appliances in R-2000 construction. First, an appliance must be approved for clean burning by the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States. See a 63-page list of EPA approvals on the Internet at http://epa.gov/ compliance/monitoring/programs/woodstoves and look for the PDF file "Certified Woodstoves". Second, the house must not be equipped in such a way as other fans could backdraft the fireplace - basically a well balanced HRV. And, of course, as with all housing, you need a CO detector in case something goes wrong.
Finding local information
I am still inexperienced in my trade, but very eager to learn. My problem is that I cannot figure out where to find local information. I know about National Building Codes, Energy Codes, etc. Where can I begin to look for local requirements? I find government Web sites difficult to navigate and I work during the week and find it difficult to conduct phone searches. Do you have any information on where to search next?
Architectural Engineering Technologist
The local permit office is a great resource for specific questions. For more in-depth information, you should consider the seminar offerings of your local Home Builders' Association. I have found that participation in the local HBA Technical Research Committees is a great way to connect with fellow building and renovation professionals as well as keeping abreast of national developments through this committee.
Student asks about advertising
I'm just a grade12 student but I had a question for one of my assignments. If I was a contractor who got builders to build townhomes, how would I advertise my homes?
Now that is a giant question! There are as many answers as there are competitors in this business. You have to decide who you want to sell to, find out where you can reach that specific target group and then get creative to get their attention.
Use those three items to interview specific developers and you will learn a lot.
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Montreal-based TV broadcaster, author, home renovation and tool expert Jon Eakes provides a tool feature in each edition of Home BUILDER.