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.
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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WA State, Home Inspector Advisory Licensing Board