Todays Power Trip – Air Sealing, Jenn-Air, Jetted Tub

Jenn-Air needs air sealing where the exhaust pipe goes through the floor.

by Don Ames

( The picture at right shows a hole where the toilet drain pipe comes down through the floor. Yes, it needs air sealing too, but the picture does not show a vent duct from a Jenn-Air. )

The rolled up bath towel on the floor in front of the range was a hint. I was looking at the bath towel when I asked the homeowner if there was a particular place in the house that felt cold. “Yeah, right there in front of the stove,” came the answer. The Jenn-Air was shiny black and newer than the rest of the house. The kitchen was an addition in 1994, the original house built in 1979.

I have waded my way through some pretty busy garages in my day. Stepping over bicycles, broken motorcycles, boxes of books and toys, dog food, and heaven knows what else, but I have never had to step gingerly between white throw rugs, that is, until now. Folks, each rug was different, some round and some oval, some long shag and some short clipped. They reminded me of polar bears lounging around just waiting for someone with dirty shoes to make a mistake.

Let’s look at the air infiltration that was revealed by the blower door.

  • Under the Jenn-Air range. I took the front panel off the bottom of the range and found a ”too large square hole” cut through the floor with a “too small round vent pipe” going through it.
  • Along the bottom of the front door. Weatherstripping along bottom of the door is simply worn out.
  • Outlet and switch boxes. Both on exterior and interior walls. Air sealing the attic could stop some of this problem.
  • Interior door strike plate notch. This is the hole in the middle of the metal strike plate that receives the plunger when the door is closed.
  • Access opening for the jetted tub. Really bad, I can’t see the hole that is under the tub, but it has to be a big one. This is when the builder cuts a big hole in the floor for the plumbing and then never seals the hole.
  • Recessed lights. Lights above the kitchen island are particular drafty. Warm air leaves the house and enters the attic.

Since the original home was built in 1979, I was particularly interested in looking in the attic. Always hate opening an attic access cover in a hallway that has nice carpet on the floor below. I feel like I should clean up the insulation that falls down and the homeowner always tries to be nice and insists that it’s OK, they will clean it up later. So, I usually clean it up anyway.

The majority of the attic is covered with about 4 inches of blown-in fiberglass. But, guess what, the area over the bathroom addition has no insulation what-so-ever. In the words of Gomer Pyle, “Surprise, Surprise.”

To save energy and money at this house, I recommend to the homeowners:

  • A bunch of air sealing, especially under the Jenn-Air and the jetted tub.
  • Air seal the attic floor before covering with insulation, recessed lights, exhaust fans, plumbing and electrical penetrations.
  • Add 12 inches of blown fiberglass over most of the ceiling and 16 inches over the bathroom addition.

These homeowners were happy with the results of my home audit visit. They were really surprised to learn that their favorite contractor, practically part of the family, left the ceiling over the bathroom uninsulated.

I never did learn why all the polar bears were covering the floor of the garage, a mystery still to this day. At least my shoes were clean…Don Ames