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  1. #1
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    Default Could pot lights be leaking air?

    This 16 yr old attic has had it rough. There was a fire in '99 and the trusses on one side were sistered and the blackened wood painted. Now there appears to be a mould problem.Anyone disagree?

    There appears to be adequate ventilation, typical soffit venting and 4 roof vents. Normal. The heaviest concentration of mold is at the end above the kitchen and a stairwell. There are 8 potlights in the kitchen ceiling. Has anyone found mould problems associated with leakage around potlights?

    Another possibility is that the fire damaged the vapor barrier.

    Maybe the wet insulation was never completely removed. That one just occurred to me. My clients walked.

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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    Here is another, maybe there was mold before the fire, painted over along with the smoke and just "woke up" over the years on particularly humid days.

    Jim Luttrall
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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    Certainly looks like a mold issue, but the appearance may be exacerbated by smoke/sooting bleeding through thinly sprayed on sealer. I like the wet/damp insulation not being completely removed scenario. It also looks like maybe originally batts were installed (some left in place) and then blown-in insulation during the remediation efforts. Did you look at the ceiling drywall under the insulation for additional mold spores? That would be the first place if the insulation was left damp.

    I don't blame your clients from walking...not in this market. I'm sure you will get their repeat business. But now it has to be disclosed and probably remedied by the seller. Great pics. BTW.

    Last edited by Ian Page; 01-22-2011 at 12:23 AM. Reason: additional comment

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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    Are there any soffit vents? Mold on the north side or all around? I see that situation pretty often on the north side of the attic when there are no soffit vents or when they are blocked by insulation.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    In the pictures that you've posted, it appears as though the blown-in insulation may be blocking the soffit vents. In order for the roof vents to work properly, make up air from the soffits needs to have a path into the attic space. This is a common problem with blown-in insulation, when the installers don't take the time to install styrofoam baffles to allow airflow out of the soffits. I can see some small baffles in the pictures, but if they're the wrong size, the insulation may have been blown in past the baffles, filling the soffits, and blocking them from the bottom.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    Certainly looks like a mold issue, but the appearance may be exacerbated by smoke/sooting bleeding through thinly sprayed on sealer.
    It is actively growing mold. See the pic on the far right where I scratched an X?
    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    I like the wet/damp insulation not being completely removed scenario. It also looks like maybe originally batts were installed (some left in place) and then blown-in insulation during the remediation efforts. Did you look at the ceiling drywall under the insulation for additional mold spores? That would be the first place if the insulation was left damp.
    The batts are around the skylight well, the rest is blown-in. the ceilings were all OK. No evidence of problems in the living space. I now think the ceiling was cleaned up, but the wall insulation got soaked by the firehoses and was left wet. Just a theory.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Robinson View Post
    Are there any soffit vents? Mold on the north side or all around? I see that situation pretty often on the north side of the attic when there are no soffit vents or when they are blocked by insulation.
    The ridge runs north and south, and pic 6 is the east side, pic 7 is the west side at the south end of the attic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Blanck View Post
    In the pictures that you've posted, it appears as though the blown-in insulation may be blocking the soffit vents. In order for the roof vents to work properly, make up air from the soffits needs to have a path into the attic space. This is a common problem with blown-in insulation, when the installers don't take the time to install styrofoam baffles to allow airflow out of the soffits. I can see some small baffles in the pictures, but if they're the wrong size, the insulation may have been blown in past the baffles, filling the soffits, and blocking them from the bottom.
    Yes there are baffles but maybe they should have installed twice as many as they did. Nevertheless, I see similar attics every day but seldom a mould factory like this.

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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    In the total of the photographs you posted I see only ONE baffle/chute between supporting truss chords that isn't partially obstructed by insulation, in what I believe to be a total of over 17 different truss spaces having been photographed.

    The ONE chute visualized, its open width less than 1/2 the space OC hardly deep, and not sufficient rise above insulation height. This negliably narrow singular chute suggests at best INTERMITTANT soffit venting inlets, and insufficiency in ventillation air exchange for the lower sloped volume space.




    Directly inside the span is an un-insulated can light with insulation dramatically less thickness in the immeiately surrounding area. The adjacent areas the insulation is piled high and in contact with the roof deck. I do not see how possibly there can be ventillation between the one exposed chute and the wall to the left (two or 3 can lights over).

    Even an IC/AT rated light will produce heat, and yes higher temperature air carring more absolute humidity, especially what may be generated in the kitchen can bypass an improperly sealed AT light to the floor/ceiling cavity, or bypass in other areas. Stack effect directly in front of an assumed sufficiently open intake below the eave space/chute and curtain effect would prevent cool air from entering and likely warmer, higher absolute humidity content air is all that enters, which hits dew point at the cooler areas higher up.

    I note a plume 1/3rd in the span.

    I note rusted roofing nails which begin at approximately the same point in the photos.

    Convection currents and "short circuits" ventillation as well, seems you have a weather pattern interior which like a tererium hits dew point condensation collection which and nearly "rains" upon the interior of the attic space.

    The insulation placement also leads one to conclude that the lights are neither IC nor AT, and that if AT they are not sufficiently sealed to the attic floor. They are well above the insulation envelope, exposed to the attic air space and act as "space heaters" - again defeating ventillation/ cold air intake at the soffits.

    The one photo near peak just below vent also indicative of dew point/cooling and condensation collection point.

    In the first photo near bottom where cut off what is below, window or gable vent?

    Therefore, I conclude ventillation is in no way sufficient, I suspect further additional contributing factors, and would further suspect vent/duct outlets of warm humid air at multiple points along the exterior wall which are entering the attic space, and substantial bypass from the interior of the home.The proliferation of similarly placed and uninsulated lights just inside the exterior wall and to the left.

    I further question the sufficiency and adequacy of the truss chord "sistering" material applied and bracing/restraint thereof. This is the type of situation, post fire, soot, and possible mold which removal of all insul materials and clean-up blasting with dry ice pellets to remove biologics, improperly applied paints/sealers, and soot can work well to start with a fresh remediation plan, but ventillation is not functioning correctly. Some areas of decking appear compromised/delaminating.

    I also suspect the "paint" or "sealer" may have been applied before new and existing wood and engineered wood had reached an appropriately low MC, and what was used was an incorrect choice and may indeed be a contributing factor, as it may well be functioning as a vapor barrier and not contain any inhibitor but actually supply "food" such as an oil-suspended primer, sealer, one-coat stain or paint; or a combination oil-laytex "water-clean up" stain such as Behr house & deck stain. I further suspect the areas "painted" were NOT cleaned removing exisiting mold growth or soot and other residues but merely sprayed then painted/stained over.

    There should be a whole lot more soffit venting, continuous those three small deck vents closed and continuous baffled ridge venting. Likely remediation for the older construction practices wasn't done either so copious bypasses, and doubtful a HRV. Suspect kitchen hood, clothes dryer and bathroom vents are dumped at the otherwise closed and unvented soffits and/or bathroom windows opened to vent warm humid air upwards where they do have vents.

    Standards and methods for remediation, drying and cleanup have changed myraid ways since the fire date. Heres a starting link for you from your area, with many supportive links therein.

    clickable link: What to Do After a Fire | CMHC

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    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 01-22-2011 at 12:42 PM. Reason: darn formatting, paragraph breaks keep disappearing. Giving up after many tries to fully correct. Sorry. :(

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    I have done a lot of blower door tests on houses with pot lights. They are almost always very leaky. In the winter you don't even need to look up to see where the pot lights are - you can feel the cold as soon as you enter the room.


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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    In the total of the photographs you posted I see only ONE baffle/chute between supporting truss chords that isn't partially obstructed by insulation, in what I believe to be a total of over 17 different truss spaces having been photographed.
    The angle of the pics does not show all the baffles. There is in fact one baffle for every three rafter bays. However, I agree there should be more. It is typical here to see a baffle of similar dimension and length in every other rafter bay. There are four roof deck vents, also a typical arrangement for this area.
    There are no gable vents in this attic. The framing is for a hip roof which has been built into each gable. The soffit vents are similar in the hips and there is minimal mould growth.
    Your other points are well taken - Poor sistering, perhaps unnecessary embellishments done for show? The trusses do not appear to be charred. Poor application of paint, delamination, etc. I'm sure the wood was painted immediately after being nailed up.

    Both the range hood and bath fan are vented thru dedicated vents (jacks) in the roof. The bath fan hose is loose and leaking, but there is minimal mold growth in that area. Most of the mould is above the kitchen and in the area of the previous fire.
    Thanks for the link. I'll check that out.

    You might try typing up your comment in MSWord first, then cut and paste it here.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Wood View Post
    I have done a lot of blower door tests on houses with pot lights. They are almost always very leaky. In the winter you don't even need to look up to see where the pot lights are - you can feel the cold as soon as you enter the room.
    Thanks, David. I suspect there is a combination of factor at work here.
    I did not try to analyze it all at the time of the inspection, but simply called for treatment by a mold remediation contractor.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    You might try typing up your comment in MSWord first, then cut and paste it here.
    I used to do that for a while John. Especially when for a while the time-out was super short just after the some sort of forum software upgrade B.H.installed a while back and he was tweaking the settings for options and forum defaults.At some point in that process, again many, many months back there was even some more forum tweaking. At some point, and for whatever reason when I pasted it in, it looked just fine to me, even after I posted it and viewed it in MY browser window. Unfortunately, when some others would look at my posts the font was either too big (HUGE), or too small (teeny tiny), (Goldilocks and the three bears), even when according to the forum's editor window it was indicating it was size 2, and for example the default font of the forum, it still (even though it looked fine to me) it didn't look "right" to some others (but not everyone, some it looked just fine to them). As I recall EC Jerry was one that saw it looking either too big or too small, but never "just right". I tried reviewing it in the advanced editor mode, but it was even more of a pain because apparently there was major incompatibility with the "accessibility" settings in my OS, Browser, and I was having to delete four font type and size indications and four font type and size off indications for every bleeping return, paragraph, other formating indication - font color, bold, italics, underline, etc. and any time I used a list, indent, or quote it went completely ka-bloo-ey.After much monkeying around, B.H. re-set the time-out for the forum, and even if it did, as long as I had hit preview and not submit, the content didn't get lost, so I stopped composing "off-line" to cut and paste, and never went back to fighting with getting a cut and paste out of word into the browser window and having the font size display correcctly.Occasionally I can still dump from notepad and it usually doesn't mess up. If I dump from word to notepad first then here, it still messes up.When I get around to booting up, d/l upgrades and settings, and get oriented with a new OpSys; and getting it to work with my "assistance" programing and other tools, the new computer still in the box collecting dust will probably be obsolete if it isn't already, and I'll probably be pushing up daisies.Typing is with a stylus or pointer, not fingers. Multi-key functions are pretty tough and very frustrating.


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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    Aww rats! Although there was plenty of double spaces after periods, and new line entries for new paragraphs, that first script didn't load fully or debug when the reply editor page loaded last time, which of course I didn't know, until after I hit submit reply (I didn't preview it) and it posted as one long run-on sentance! Sorry about that, but I'm tired and off to bed so I'm not going back and reload the dang thing in edit mode, force the script to debug wysiwyg correctly and edit the post with forced spaces and forced paragraph formatting! ("<p>'s").

    You get the drift.


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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    "Both the range hood and bath fan are vented thru dedicated vents (jacks) in the roof. The bath fan hose is loose and leaking, but there is minimal mold growth in that area. Most of the mould is above the kitchen and in the area of the previous fire"


    John, we always replace flexible tubing and hard pipe the kitchen and bath vent through the roof, then we insulate the hard pipe with fiberglass insulation and use metal tape to hold it all together. This helps with condensation. Not sure if this is part of your problem, sounds like there is more than one thing going on there.

    If the client is so inclined maybe you could suggest a blower door test with infrared. As Dan said this will show where all the air leaks are.


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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    Aww rats! Although there was plenty of double spaces after periods, and new line entries for new paragraphs, that first script didn't load fully or debug when the reply editor page loaded last time, which of course I didn't know, until after I hit submit reply (I didn't preview it) and it posted as one long run-on sentance!

    H. G.,

    It has done that to me a couple of times too, the solution I found is to go to 'edit', then 'go advanced' and edit it in the advanced mode ... that seems to take care of the formatting problems.

    Give it a try.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    I already mentioned advanced edit mode in the 2nd half of the preceeding post Jerry.

    Still requires editing after posting, or losing the content, and its a pain, requires two key button combinations, a key plus mouse click held down and directed, or a lot of backspaces/deletes keystrokes.

    Not a helpful solution, esp when using assistance programs and tools.

    The bug issue is in the VB script in the page layout, and infill; debug burps interupted page vbulletin in-fill by ad banner fill. I don't have the problem on other forums using former, equal or later versions of the V Bull. software, however when I finally get around to using new system, it won't matter, debug script will likely better compensate, or I'll switch to non-MS OS, browser, and text editor/wp.


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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    Quote Originally Posted by James Risley View Post
    This appears to be an example of why CA wants the insp rpt to be an historical document. If it is an historical document then it becoms a part of the documentation on the house and yes the seller would have to disclose/ ammend his disclosure since he is now aware. However if the report is not an historical document, and it belongs to the proposed buyer and HE DOES NOT GIVE THE REPORT TO THE SELLER OR DISCLOSE WHY HE IS WALKING then the seller is unaware of the conditions found and has no need to amend his disclosure.
    JR
    Shouldn't the findings be verified first, before they become permanently attached to the property? The inspector could be mistaken, exaggerating, or just plain wrong.
    The onus should be on the next buyer to get an inspection done for himself. Relying on old, second hand info is going to lead to trouble for somebody, just to save a few bucks and make a transaction quicker for the realtor.
    If the home owner wants an inspection report, he should pay someone that he can trust to do it.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    James
    Though this is off-thread, please explain where you are getting this 'Historical Document' information from.

    In CA, finding $50k worth of defect (or any amount for that matter) makes not the slightest bit of difference at the Tax Revenue office. The owner of the proerty has the right to challenge the tax assessment based on devalued property but that is primarily due to comparative value of other area homes within the district. If property values goes down - as most have in recent years - a homeowner can request a re-assessment of his property and expect his tax liability to be reduced for the upcoming year. It then continues at the new basis until property values increase.

    From a taxation point of view, one house with a variety of upgrades (not including add-ons/ room additions / in-ground pools, spas etc) is not valued any differently from a house across the street with the exact same floor plan but requiring extensive work. The only differing distinction, under Prop. 13, is when each of the homes were sold and purchased. The date of sale forms a new tax basis. One house purchased in say, 2000 for $200K would have a 2011 tax liability of about $2750 +/- ( 1.025% approx. x assessed valued /sales price + a % annualized cost increase). A similar home also built in 2000 but sold and purchased in 2010 for $400k would have a 2011 tax liability of about $4250. +/-. So any 'negative' HI report, divulging lots of deficiencies will make little or no difference to any tax assessment. There are exceptions which I won't go into.


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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    I wouldn't suggest pressurized blower door testing in a home with known or suspected flourishing mold, or one which has not been properly post-fire remediated, cleaned-out and -up, until and unless it first was properly cleaned up/decontaminated!! The potential to spreading contaminates, forcing infiltration into areas not yet effected, or minimally affected/infiltrated otherwise!

    Removal of materials, examination, and corrections/remediations made, and verified; after then and only AFTER then, perhaps.

    Fire suppression chemicals, products of housefire, etc. would be uncontrollably spread under intentional pressurized testing. Containment, clean up, removal, and remediation would and should preceed any such potentially further destructive and/or contaminating measures.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 01-24-2011 at 08:37 AM.

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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    canned lights are very leaky unless extra care has been taken to seal them. Even so called air tight cans may need caulk like around the wiring opening in to the can.

    Since the top of the can is clearly exposed I would say there is not enough insulation plus it is fiberglass crap.

    If you see mold in an attic you can usally count of there being an air leak. Fiberglasss insulation will not stop an air leak. Fiberglass does work as an air filter so look for dirty insulation to find air leaks. In the pictures we see a can light and fiberglass insualtion. How many other air leaks are there. Unless that attic floor was sealed then there are many.

    The thing to remember about attic venting is that it is a backup plan that is typically used as a first line of defense. I am not saying it is not needed but if a home is not leaking a lot of air (bringing along moisture) then a lot less venting will accomplish the job. I would say at least every other rafter bay should have a baffle. The baffle should be the full width of the bay and have a 1.5 to 2 inch air space.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    Hi (ALL) &

    Yessirree - combination of air-leaks from below (heated air being bouyant) and air-borne interior moisture being carried into a cold and under-ventilated attic to condense is a recipe for disaster - just like this one.

    Had one like this just last week (no fire though) & had to recommend they replace the nearly gone shingles AND the black /rotting roof sheating at the same time, subject to properly ventilating that attic...


    CHEERS !

    -Glenn Duxbury, CHI

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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    James, I did - and posed the same question there. Still unanswered...


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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    What a mess. I have a theory. During the fire, the FD vented the house with a kitchen window. Which damaged the soffit. When the soffit was replaced, "Chuck with a truck", just went over the original soffit and blocked the vent holes. Adding to the poor air flow in the attic. I have seen this on homes with re-sides. The can lights look newer, no over spray from when the paint was applied same with the insulation. Tell your client to check if the Can lights are able to have direct contact with insulation. This is important as too not have another visit from the local FD. Great Photos.


  22. #22

    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    FUNNY MOST ALL ON SHEATHING?? TEST IT TO BE SURE AND REPORT WHAT YOU SEE!


  23. #23
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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    Any Bath Vents not vented outside the Attic?


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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rolland Pruner View Post
    FUNNY MOST ALL ON SHEATHING?? TEST IT TO BE SURE AND REPORT WHAT YOU SEE!
    I did a visual test and scraped it with my screwdriver. It is mould and it is alive. We don't need to know if it is Aspergillus or Stachybotris or whatever, do we?
    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Benson View Post
    Any Bath Vents not vented outside the Attic?
    One bath vent was leaking, yes, but the mold growth was concentrated at the other end. My clients dropped this place and found a nicer home, which I inspected for them last week.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    This 16 yr old attic has had it rough. There was a fire in '99 and the trusses on one side were sistered and the blackened wood painted. Now there appears to be a mould problem.Anyone disagree?

    There appears to be adequate ventilation, typical soffit venting and 4 roof vents. Normal. The heaviest concentration of mold is at the end above the kitchen and a stairwell. There are 8 potlights in the kitchen ceiling. Has anyone found mould problems associated with leakage around potlights?

    Another possibility is that the fire damaged the vapor barrier.

    Maybe the wet insulation was never completely removed. That one just occurred to me. My clients walked.
    I see problems with mold and can not say further with testing being done.
    I also see nails. That's a no no. Safey issue.

    Here is my take on the roofing system.
    1: when ever I see nails like that I know the installers did not do a good job.
    2: if it a cold climate, there might be ice damming going on.
    There are pot lights and the heat from the pots will travel onto the sheathing and cause ice damming.
    3: lack of ventilation and insulation. There is frost building up on the underside of the decking causing the mold buildup.
    Now for my conclusion.
    a: There is ice damming ( pot lights )
    Water might be infiltrating.
    b: there is inadequate venting and insulation.
    These are the concerns causing all the damage.
    I can tell you how to repair and the monastery cost of do so.
    You are a HI. Just report your findings.
    1 lack of insulation.
    2 lack of proper ventilation.
    3 mold.
    4 pot-lights are in the system should be addressed by a renovator,contractor.
    recommend a certified roofing comany do a writeup.
    I am a journeyman roofer.
    That ismy take.
    Good luck.

    I will also say
    the sheathing might have been discolored when it was placed on the home. I have seen this before.
    there are not enough baffles in the soffiting to all proper air to be vented out the attic Should be 1 baffle per ceiling joist spacing.
    Baffles

    Last edited by ROBERT YOUNG; 01-31-2011 at 05:39 AM.
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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    I see problems with mold and can not say further with testing being done.
    I also see nails. That's a no no. Safey issue.

    Here is my take on the roofing system.
    1: when ever I see nails like that I know the installers did not do a good job.
    2: if it a cold climate, there might be ice damming going on.

    3: lack of ventilation and insulation. There is frost building up on the underside of the decking causing the mold buildup.

    Baffles
    What are you saying, the roofing nails are too long? Who cares? Too short is a problem. The manufacturers call for roofing nails to penetrate at least 3/4" into the sheathing. For 5/8" sheathing, that means all the way through.

    Ice damming is never a problem where I am, coastal BC. Frost on the sheathing? Nope, not cold enough.

    Discoloured sheathing? Well it was painted white 10 years ago. That coloured stuff you see is green-black fuzz.

    Poor ventilation, you bet, and not enough soffit vents, yes, but most homes I see have no more than a baffle in every other rafter bay. That works OK in a normal attic around here.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    If i were you , i just simply paint the stuff and safe lot of money
    Painting things like that saves lot of money


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    Default Re: Could pot lights be leaking air?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alfred View Post
    If i were you , i just simply paint the stuff and safe lot of money
    Painting things like that saves lot of money
    he could also save himself some $$$.
    So did not mean to pick on your spelling. I am horrific. IESPELL to the rescue.
    Please in your photos next time show the exterior of the home so one could draw from visual conclusion the most probable cause and its effect.
    To me: Again under insulated and next to no venting allowing hing humiaty..
    The pot lights are heating the ice or snow on top at night. When the pot lights are turned off the cooling from the snow, ice, extreme temperature differences cause the inside decking to frost over by attracting vapor particulate.
    Like a fridges freezers cores the pass the cooling fluids attract vapor from humility of food being placed inside that chamber.
    Same idea of transfer.

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