November, 2010
News in Brief
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Environmental: Air Quality

EDITED BY ASHI STAFF

What is Indoor airPLUS?

EPA created Indoor airPLUS to help builders meet the growing consumer preference for homes with improved indoor air quality. EPA developed additional construction specifications to help improve indoor air quality in new homes.
Construction specifications include the careful selection and installation of moisture control systems; heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems; combustion-venting systems; radon-resistant construction; and low-emitting building materials. Read EPA's "Indoor airPLUS Better Environments Inside and Out."

Technical Guidance to the Indoor airPLUS Construction Specifications

1. Moisture Control

Water-Managed Roof Assemblies

Best Practice: Wind Baffles – Attic Insulation


Install wind baffles or another form of air barrier in the eave bays of roof assemblies that contain soffit vents to prevent wind from blowing through fibrous insulating materials at the eaves.

wind-baffles-rafter-chutes.jpg

soffit-venting-profile.jpg


Why

Wind baffles (venting chutes, rafter vents) are recommended for traditional vented attics (i.e., a pitched roof and the ceiling assembly acting as the thermal and air barrier). For effective attic ventilation, air needs to flow freely from the soffit vents and exit at the ridge vents. While these baffles allow loose-fill insulation blown into the attic to fully cover the top plates of the outside walls (thus providing a complete thermal barrier between the attic and the living spaces below), they also prevent the insulation material from falling into the soffits and blocking the vents.

The baffles perform another function. Strong winds blowing up through the soffit vents can blow the insulation away from the wall plates and outer-most areas of the attic. Cold air entering the attic can then lower the temperature of the gypsum-board ceiling below. If the temperature of the gypsum inside the room below the attic drops below the dew point of the indoor air, water will condense onto the drywall and mold will grow.

How

Install baffle materials — plywood, oriented strand board, cardboard, foam board or polyvinyl chloride — in ceiling joist bays and their matching roof-rafter bays so the ceiling insulation covers the top plates of the outside walls, yet there is space for air to flow unimpeded from soffit vents into the attic. Attic insulation should always extend over the exterior wall plates; if this is not done in cold climates, air from the living space can warm the sheathing at the eaves and help form ice dams on the roof at the eaves, causing water leaks. See Specification 1.10.

References/Additional Information
• "Moisture-Resistant Homes – A Best-Practice Guide and Plan Review Tool for Builders and Designers," U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research, March 2006. See www.huduser.org/Publications/pdf/moisturehomes.pdf.

• "Builder's Guide to Cold Climates," Lstiburek, Joseph, 2006, Building Science Press. See www.buildingscience.com.

www.epa.gov/indoorairplus/about.html

• www.epa.gov/indoorairplus/technical/moisture/wind_baffles.html


Client Resource

IRS Guidance on Imported Drywall


On September 30, 2010, the Internal Revenue Service issued guidance providing relief to homeowners who have suffered property losses due to the effects of certain imported drywall installed in homes between 2001 and 2009.

Revenue Procedure 2010-36 (www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/rp-2010-36.pdf) enables affected taxpayers to treat damages from corrosive drywall as a casualty loss and provides a "safe harbor" formula for determining the amount of the loss.

In numerous instances, home-owners with certain imported drywall have reported blackening or corrosion of copper electrical wiring and copper components of household appliances, as well as the presence of sulfur gas odors. In November 2009, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported that an indoor air study of a sample of 51 homes found a strong association between the problem drywall, levels of hydrogen sulfide in those homes and corrosion of metals in those homes.

Revenue Procedure 2010-36 provides the following relief:

  • Individuals who pay to repair damage to their personal residences or household appliances resulting from corrosive drywall may treat the amount paid as a casualty loss in the year of payment.

  • Taxpayers who have already filed their income tax return for the year of payment generally have three years to file an amended return and claim the deduction.The amount of a loss that may be claimed depends on whether the taxpayer has a pending claim for reimbursement (or intends to pursue reimbursement) of the loss through property insurance, litigation or otherwise.

  • In cases where a taxpayer does not have a pending claim for reimbursement, the taxpayer may claim as a loss all unreimbursed amounts paid during the taxable year to repair damage to the taxpayer's personal residence and household appliances resulting from corrosive drywall.

  • If a taxpayer does have a pending claim (or intends to pursue reimbursement), a taxpayer may claim a loss for 75 percent of the unreimbursed amount paid during the taxable year to repair damage to the taxpayer's personal residence and household appliances that resulted from corrosive drywall.
A taxpayer who has been fully reimbursed before filing a return for the year the loss was sustained may not claim a loss. A taxpayer who has a pending claim for reimbursement (or intends to pursue reimbursement) may have income or an additional deduction in subsequent taxable years depending on the actual amount of reimbursement received.

The term "corrosive drywall" means drywall that is identified as problem drywall under the two-step identification method published by the CPSC and the Department of Housing and Urban Development in their interim guidance dated January 28, 2010.

Source: Randall Pence, Capitol Hill Advocates, Inc., ASHI's federal lobbyist.


Lead Hazard

HUD Offers $110 Million in Grants to Clean up Lead Hazards


Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that it is making approximately $110 million in grants available to help eliminate dangerous lead-based paint from lower-income homes and to protect young children from lead poisoning. The grants to states and local governments are being offered through HUD's Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control and Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration Programs.

HUD is providing an opportunity for applicants through its Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control Grant Program. Prospective grantees will be able to apply for supplementary funding to promote and develop a local Healthy Housing initiative, building on their lead hazard control program, to address multiple housing-related health hazards in accordance with best practices HUD has identified.  In addition, the department will announce the availability of funds for four Healthy Homes and lead grant programs in the near future.

More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov.