Seattle Home Inspector's Blog


Heating up all outdoors!

It is not totally uncommon to be walking around the exterior of a home in the winter time and feel heat coming out of the crawl space vents.

Sometimes ductwork becomes disconnected and the crawl space ends up being unintentionally “heated.”

It can be a tremendous waste of energy, but will make the floors over the crawl space nice and comfy.

Comfort and energy savings are always doing battle and most people will opt for slippers in this scenario. In many cases insulating the floors will not make the floors feel warmer either due to what is called “cold floor effect.” This is mostly related to the common use of fiberglass insulation in these floors and because installation is never perfect there will still be gaps between the insulation and the floor that the cold crawl space air will find its way into. But this is a topic for another time.

Regardless of the insulation in the floor we want to make sure that all the ductwork is properly connected and insulated so that the heat we are creating and attempting to distribute throughout the home gets to where it is supposed to go.

Clearly feeling heat coming out of the crawl space vents at the exterior does not meet that goal.

Once in the crawl space, I discovered that the duct was not so much disconnected but rusted away.

Large Hole in Ductwork

This large hole just dumped hot air into the crawl space---exacerbated by the heat register in the room above being in the closed position.

A very cheap fix in relation to the energy being lost. Sealing and insulating ductwork for both heating and cooling is perhaps the single most cost effective thing a person can do to their home to save energy. It is generally cheap and easy---and the returns can be dramatic.


Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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Comment balloon 7 commentsCharles Buell • January 22 2016 03:41PM


I think about all the waste and the higher heating bills when this happens. Not many of us crawl or look under our houses but it isn't a bad idea to check it out even if you're not buying or selling you home.

Posted by Debbie Reynolds, Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent (Platinum Properties) almost 3 years ago

Great advice...we just had our insulation done and when they were there they noticed a vent was torn off outside from the critters and snow was coming in!

Posted by Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®, Giving Back With Each Home Sold! (RE/MAX Realty Center ) almost 3 years ago

Charles, I think they did that for you so you would be comfortable whilst crawling in the area me thinks... no?

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) almost 3 years ago

I bet their energy bills were crazy high.  Good catch.

Posted by Belinda Spillman, Colorado Living! (Aspen Lane Real Estate Colorful Colorado) almost 3 years ago

I guess I need to walk around my house.  But it's in the 70s here today, so I'll have to do it on a colder day. No heat running today

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) almost 3 years ago

Charles new ducting is on my list for this year. I don't even want to know how bad it really is - we just want to make it right before it warms up this summer!

Posted by Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886, Arizona's Top Banana! (Phoenix Property Shoppe) almost 3 years ago

Well, excuse me but that sounds like the crawl space you want to be in!

Did you calculate the carbon footprint?  Maybe you should report them.

Says he, with an evil snicker...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 3 years ago