Dear Ken: The dryer vent in my house runs into the crawl space. Some say it’s good for the house and others say it’s not. What do you think? — Bob
Answer: I’ll side with the latter. Exhausting the dryer into any space except the outdoors adds unwanted and concentrated moisture plus lint. You’d think that, in this dry climate, extra humidity would be desirable. In this case, however, you’re risking damage to your underlying wood floor system and maybe encouraging mold. Plus, the lint can accumulate to such a degree that it chokes your furnace, potentially becoming a fire hazard.
If all that’s not enough, you’re also wasting energy with each drying cycle. Your clothes are taking extra time to dry because the output of the dryer is dumping into moister space than the outdoor air. This also applies to those who use switchable dryer damper box gizmos or those who cover their dryer duct with pantyhose.
Dear readers: I got several responses to an answer I gave a couple of weeks ago in regards to eliminating the cigarette smell from a newly purchased home. I suggested washing the walls, then priming and painting. The feedback I received was from people promoting air purifiers.
A common model relies on moving air through a charcoal mesh and then a HEPA filter in a small portable console. Others produce ozone — the same aggressive form of oxygen you smell after a lightning storm. These seem to work OK, but only in small areas.
There is 15,000 to 20,000 cubic feet of air in the average home. The effectiveness of any circulation setup is based strictly on its CFM, or the amount of cubic feet of air that moves through it per minute. So a small, fan-driven unit is going to have trouble purifying much air in a whole house. Bottom line: It’s better to remove the pollution at the source.
Dear Ken: You mentioned low-e film on the radio. What is its name and where can you get it? — Van
Answer: It’s available at any home center or hardware store. It’s tinting film and comes with various filtering effectiveness.
You spritz a detergent-and-water mixture onto the cleaned window, squeegee the film to release the moisture and air bubbles, and then trim with a razor blade. The film will reflect out sunlight year-round and will help retain heat during the wintertime.
There is evidence that suggests this film will shorten the life of double-pane windows, so check with the manufacturer if your windows are newer and still under warranty.
Dear Ken: I’m having recurring sinus problems and wonder about the effectiveness of whole house humidifiers tied to the furnace. — Brenda
Answer: There’s only one style I like. It contains no moving parts and is relatively easy to maintain. Aprilaire is one of a few brands that dribbles water over a honeycombed mesh. Part of the furnace’s airflow then is drawn through the screen, raising its relative humidity.
The evaporating water leaves salt deposits behind, which you can clean with vinegar once in a while; the screen should be replaced annually.
These work pretty well during the heating season. Since they rely on the blower to move air, you’ll need a thermostat that includes an “always on” option. Or, better yet, check out an automatic model. These come with a computer inside the humidistat that takes control of the blower and keeps it on until the humidity rises to a preset level.
One other thing: Make sure the humidifier is installed in an “offset” configuration. That means the unit itself doesn’t sit directly over the furnace. Even the best humidifiers leak, so mounting it on one of the side metal ducts ensures the furnace’s interior is protected.
I’ve found that a good console- style, cold-steam humidifier in the bedroom also works well, so you might consider that before buying the bigger unit.
The furnace version should run $400 to $600, and that price includes installation.
Dear Ken: What would you recommend to clean the hard water spots off a shower door? — Jen
Answer: A paste composed of vinegar and baking soda is a tried-and-true homemade method. Barkeeper’s Friend is another effective product; it contains oxalic acid that works well on hard water bathroom blemishes.
Other ideas include CLR (calcium- lime-rust) or Easy Off oven cleaner spray formulations. You can encourage spot removal with any of these products by using a Teflon kitchen scrubber or some very fine steel wool (0000 grit, for example).
Incidentally, I’ve found that one of those daily shower sprays can keep the stall fairly clean when used as recommended on the label.
Ken Moon is a home inspector in the Pikes Peak region. His radio show airs at 4 pm Saturdays on KRDO, FM 105.5 and AM 1240. Visit aroundthehouse.com