Our team answers homeowner questions every weekend on WCCO 830AM from 9:00am-10:00am. Have your most pressing home improvement questions answered by calling 651-989-9226 or texting 81807. Here’s the must-know information from Barry Stranz (professional & educator) who has 30+ years in the home improvement industry.
Having been in the home improvement business for over thirty years, this week’s host, Barry Stranz, has witnessed his share of building code changes. Currently teaching classes to realtors, he felt it was important to convey to them how much the approach of exterior wall sheathing has evolved over time. Homes built prior to 1930 utilized solid lumber boards. By the 1950’s and 1960’s, fiberboard and plywood 4×8 sheets were being used on the outside of the house. That meant drying capacity changed because these sheets allow less vapor to move through them. This change was made because it created more structurally sound homes. This adjustment also brought on a modification in the drying capacity of the wall framing. The 1970’s saw an increase in the the amount of insulation being used in homes. However, homes still felt drafty because of leaky windows. With the dawn of the 1980’s window efficiency increased, as did the tightness of the construction of new homes. This created a scenario of moisture problems within homes, particularly in homes with stucco siding. That was because builders were not addressing where the water vapor in a home should be directed. Contractors that were opening up walls in the winter months were discovering that fiberglass insulation was frosted on the back edge to the plywood due to the absence of a vapor retarder. These days, the majority of building experts understand that while it’s important to have a tight home, the moisture within needs to be properly controlled with an adequate ventilation system.
Savvy homeowners know that this time of the year is a prime time to start thinking about winter home maintenance. One task that shouldn’t ever be neglected is prepping your furnace, including changing your filter. When considering which filter to purchase, it’s wise to check the MERV (minimum efficiency rating value). This spells out how well a filter can screen particulates in the air inside the system. Most furnaces can handle up to a MERV 8 without having impact on the blower motor’s operation. Newer units were designed for a better screened filter systems. This means they can accommodate a MERV 12. If you put a finer screening filter onto a traditional furnace blower motor, you’ll restrict so much air that the motor has to work too hard. Because of that, you’ll shorten the life of the blower motor. It’s worth noting that the cheapest furnace filters are usually comprised of fiberglass and provide minimal functionality.
This week brought in a variety of questions from homeowners. Here are two of our favorites:
Q: Ron from St. Bonifacius asked for Barry’s take on the pros and cons of building a house with a basement or slab on grade. Barry responded that slab on grade falls into the realm of universal design and fewer stairs means that seniors have the ability to live in their home longer. However, a home without a basement sacrifices storage space. Ultimately, one must consider resale values and the end user before making this decision when building a home.
Q: Donna in Prior Lake called in to ask whether the dropping temperatures would require her to wait until spring to replace the picture window in her home that had a broken seal. Barry assured her that air temperature doesn’t matter and that there are caulks designed to hold up to Midwestern winters. A room might become cold during the installation, but the rough opening is exposed for minutes and not hours.
Learn more about Lindus Construction’s window installation process here:
Q: Dave in Roseville is working on a renovation project for his mid-1960’s rambler with 2×4 construction and asked whether it was wiser to invest in spray foam or fiberglass insulation. Without hesitation, Barry suggested the use of spray foam insulation because it seals so well causes the walls to be more rigid, and decreases the amount of sound that is transmitted through the wall cavity.
Pondering new windows or insulation? Click here for a free estimate.
Listen to the entire podcast here: