Health and Safety Categories: A-E
Conditioning and Heating Systems
Action / Allowability:
“Red tagged”, inoperable, or nonexistent heating system replacement, repair, or installation is allowed where climate conditions warrant, unless prevented by other guidance herein. Air conditioning system replacement, repair, or installation is allowed in homes of at-risk occupants where climate conditions warrant.
Make sure systems are present, operable, and performing. Determine presence of at-risk occupants.
Discuss and provide information on appropriate use and maintenance of units and proper disposal of bulk fuel tanks when not removed.
Awareness of guidance.
Appliances and Water Heaters ^
Action / Allowability: Replacement of water heaters is allowed on a case by case basis. Replacement and installation of other appliances are not allowable health and safety costs. Repair and cleaning are allowed. Also see Air Conditioning and Heating Systems and Combustion Gases.
Determine whether appliances/water heaters are performing safely. Combustion safety testing is required when combustion appliances are present.
Discuss and provide information on appropriate use, maintenance, and disposal of appliances/water heaters.
Awareness of guidance. Conducting diagnostic training.
Asbestos - In siding, walls, ceilings, etc. ^
Action / Allowability: Removal of siding is allowed in order to perform energy conservation measures. All precautions must be taken not to damage siding. Asbestos siding should never be cut or drilled. It is recommended, where possible, to insulate through home interior.
Testing: Inspect exterior wall surface and subsurface for asbestos siding prior to drilling or cutting.
Client Education: Inform the client that suspected asbestos siding is present and how precautions will be taken.
Training: Safe practices for siding removal and replacement. How to identify asbestos containing materials.
Asbestos - In vermiculite ^
Action / Allowability: When vermiculite is present, unless testing determines otherwise, take precautionary measures as if it contains asbestos, such as not using blower door tests and utilizing personal air monitoring while in attics. Where blower door tests are performed, it is a best practice to perform pressurization instead of depressurization. Encapsulation by an appropriately trained asbestos control professional is allowed. Removal is not allowed.
Testing: Assess whether vermiculite is present. Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act of 1986 (AHERA) certified prescriptive sampling is allowed by a certified tester.
Client Education: Clients should be instructed not to disturb suspected asbestos containing material. Provide asbestos safety information to the client. Formally notify client if test results are positive for asbestos and signed by the client.
Audit training on how to recognize vermiculite. AHERA course for testing. AHERA or other appropriately trained or certified asbestos control professional training for encapsulation.
Asbestos - On pipes, furnaces, other small covered surfaces ^
Action / Allowability: Assume asbestos is present in covering materials. Encapsulation is allowed by an AHERA asbestos control professional and should be conducted prior to blower door testing. Removal may be allowed by an AHERA asbestos control professional on a case by case basis.
AHERA testing is allowed by a certified tester.
Clients should be instructed not to disturb suspected asbestos containing material. Provide asbestos safety information to the client.
Training: AHERA course for testing and asbestos control professional training for abatement. How to identify asbestos containing materials.
Biological and Unsanitary Conditions ^
Action / Allowability: Remediation of conditions that may lead to or promote biological concerns and unsanitary conditions is allowed. Addressing bacteria and viruses is not an allowable cost. Deferral may be necessary in cases where a known agent is present in the home that may create a serious risk to occupants or weatherization workers. Also see Mold and Moisture guidance below.
Client Education: Inform client of observed conditions. Provide information on how to maintain a sanitary home and steps to correct deferral conditions.
How to recognize conditions and when to defer. Worker safety when coming in contact with these conditions.
Building Structures and Roofing ^
Action / Allowability: Building rehabilitation is beyond the scope of the Weatherization Assistance Program. Homes with conditions that require more than incidental repair should be deferred. See Mold and Moisture guidance below.
Testing: Visual inspection. Ensure that access to areas necessary for weatherization is safe for entry and performance of assessment, work, and inspection.
Client Education: Notify client of structurally compromised areas.
Training: How to identify structural and roofing issues.
Code Compliance ^
Action / Allowability: Correction of preexisting code compliance issues is not an allowable cost other than where weatherization measures are being conducted. State and local (or jurisdiction having authority) codes must be followed while installing weatherization measures. Condemned properties and properties where “red tagged” health and safety conditions exist that cannot be corrected under this guidance should be deferred.
Testing: Visual inspection. Local code enforcement inspections.
Client Education: Inform client of observed code compliance issues.
Training: How to determine what code compliance may be required.
Combustion Gases ^
WAP technology has advanced to the point where dwellings are being sealed tighter than ever before. In accordance with the "house-as-a-system" approach to weatherization, existing indoor air quality conditions may be exacerbated by air sealing techniques. Indoor air quality problems may have existed before weatherization but not been identified because there were significant air changes in the home.
Combustion appliances can be the source of problems that should be addressed by WAP. Related protocols typically include:
- Testing for carbon monoxide and taking corrective action to reduce to acceptable levels;
- Gas leak detection tests and repairs on gas appliances and supply lines;
- Checking for leaks in oil appliances and supply lines;
- Draft tests and vent inspections and related repairs;
- Testing for backdrafting and potential for flue gases to spill into living space;
- Ensuring sufficient combustion air; and
- Ensuring proper clearances from combustible materials.
Action / Allowability: Proper venting to the outside for combustion appliances, including gas dryers is required. Correction of venting is allowed when testing indicates a problem.
Testing: Combustion safety testing is required when combustion appliances are present. Inspect venting of combustion appliances and confirm adequate clearances. Test naturally drafting appliances for draft and spillage under worst case conditions before and after air tightening. Inspect cooking burners for operability and flame quality.
Client Education: Provide client with combustion safety and hazards information, including the importance of using exhaust ventilation when cooking and the importance of keeping burners clean to limit the production of CO.
Training: How to perform appropriate testing, determine when a building is excessively depressurized, and the difference between air free and as-measured.
Action / Allowability: Major drainage issues are beyond the scope of the Weatherization Assistance Program. Homes with conditions that may create a serious health concern that require more than incidental repair should be deferred. See Mold and Moisture guidance below.
Testing: Visual inspection
Client Education: Importance of cleaning and maintaining drainage systems. Information on proper landscape design.
Training: How to recognize drainage issues.
Electrical - Other than Knob and Tube Wiring ^
Action / Allowability: Minor electrical repairs are allowed where health or safety of the occupant is at risk. Upgrades and repairs are allowed when necessary to perform specific weatherization measures.
Testing: Visual inspection. Voltage drop and voltage detection testing are allowed.
Client Education: Provide information on overloading circuits, electrical safety/risks.
Training: How to identify electrical hazards. Local code compliance.
Electrical - Knob and Tube Wiring ^
The two primary electrical concerns during weatherization are insulating homes that contain knob-and-tube wiring and identifying overloaded electrical circuits.
Knob-and-Tube Wiring: Retrofitting thermal insulation around older electric wiring (primarily knob-and-tube wiring) can cause it to overheat, resulting in a fire hazard. States must ensure that insulation around wiring conforms to local codes.
In 1987, an amendment to the National Electric Code (NEC) prohibited the placing of insulation in contact with knob and tube (K&T) wiring. This amendment had a significant impact on low-income weatherization programs around the nation. Installing insulation into sidewalls and attics where K&T or faulty wiring may exist is a major weatherization activity and often accounts for the greatest energy savings and return on investment. During the summer of 2002, the Pennsylvania Department of Economic and Community Development (PA DCED); the Weatherization Training Center (WTC) at Penn College and STEP Inc., a Weatherization Assistance Program provider; entered into a joint research project to attempt to identify simple; and cost effective wiring retrofits and prescribe safe methods for installing thermal insulation where K&T wiring exists. The report,
Retrofitting Knob and Tube Wiring, An Investigation into Codes, Wiring Practices and Cost
, provides the results of the project.
Overloaded Electrical Circuits: Weatherization measures that involve the installation of new electrical equipment can bring previously marginal overload problems to hazardous levels. If these problems prevent adequate weatherization, the agency should consider repairing them.
Action / Allowability: Minor upgrades and repairs necessary for weatherization measures and where the health or safety of the occupant is at risk are allowed. Must provide sufficient over-current protection prior to insulating over knob-and-tube wiring. Inspect for presence and condition of knob-and-tube wiring.
Testing: Check for alterations that may create an electrical hazard. Voltage drop and voltage detection testing are allowed.
Client Education: Provide information to client on over-current protection, overloading circuits, basic electrical safety/risks.
Training: How to identify electrical hazards. Local code compliance.