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One of the most common sources of drafts and cold air in a home is a leaking attic entry hatch. They are often out of sight and out of mind but can lead to a lot of chilly nights and increased heating costs.
As with any drafty situation, the first thing to look for is a source of air leakage. When air can move from one area to another it takes heat with it. This is a good thing for hot air blowing out of a heating duct register but not ideal when that same heated air is moving in to the attic or outdoors.
From the thermal images and with visual inspection of this attic hatch it appears that the weatherstripping is inadequate. There is pretty good insulation over the center of the hatch but there is obvious air movement around the perimeter. Warm air from the house is leaking in to the attic which increases heating costs and decreases comfort in the home.
One of the cool tools that I use during inspections is a FLIR Thermal Imaging camera. This allows me to take measurements of temperature differentials of various surfaces and objects during an inspection. Useful for finding areas of air leakage and hidden insulation problems.
I took a picture of my sleeping dog Magoo this morning to show what the camera is capable of doing. The image on the left is the regular digital camera image while the picture on the left is a blended thermal image. Relative cool areas are darker, warmer areas are brighter. Magoo is working hard at sleeping and is significantly warmer than the floor he is laying on.
Thermal imaging works best when there is a large temperature differential between the inside and outside of the house. The images above show a front door from the inside on a cold morning. You can see a big temperature drop at the bottom of the sidelight window on the left and the bottom of the door. Looks like there is some air leakage on the bottom of the door - the weather stripping likely needs to be replaced.
Harbor Freight ads are very tempting. Cheap prices for tools that don't look too bad on the glossy paper of the circular. Get up close and reality is often a bit different than the marketing.
When I first started collecting tools for projects, Harbor Freight was a cheap and easy option. For the price of one decent screwdriver I could get a whole blister pack of various size screwdrivers. Unfortunately, this is definitely a case of you get what you pay for. There is a reason that a set of 12 screwdrivers or pliers can be bought that cheaply. Poor fit and finish, poorly ground tool ends and cheap plastic are the hallmark. None of these tools ever performed like they were supposed to and ended up causing more frustration than results.
While Harbor Freight can be a great source for a special purpose tool that you only need for one step of a project and don't need to last, it is not a good source for tools that you are going to use every day.
I still use Harbor Freight to find some tools that I need to use only once or twice. These picture are from a trip I took to get a 22 mm socket (only $3.99) that I need for a specific fill plug on my truck's transfer case. I am not expecting much out of the socket, just need to use it a few times in the life of my vehicle so I'm OK with the tradeoff of quality for price. For other tools that I will use regularly I have learned my lesson from previous purchases. It's much cheaper in the long run to buy quality once rather than cheaper tools multiple times.
Brian Jovag, owner of Jovag Home Inspection.