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Oct 31, 2023

Skulls, Snakes, and Sizing: The Horrors of Home Performance

What's the scariest thing you've ever encountered on the job?

By: Macie Melendez

Picture this: There’s an unstable man holding someone hostage in your home town. Concerned neighbors call the police. The sheriff’s SWAT, bomb squad, and crisis negotiation teams are called in. They negotiate with the man for 14 hours, only to end up breaking in and tear gassing the home.

What happens next? They call the home performance professionals, of course.

This may sound far-fetched but it’s happened before to the Attic Queen herself, Jessica Azarelo. “We had gotten called to the scene because after a fourteen-hour standoff the cops busted the door in and tear gassed the house,” she says. You may be thinking: But why call home performance pros? Here’s why: “We had to remove the insulation because the tear gas was stuck in the insulation,” says Azarelo.

What happened next was even scarier, she recalls: “In the insulation I found one of the most beautiful skulls with the most perfect teeth all intact.” Say what?! As a professional in the trades, it’s not often that scenes like this happen, but it seemed like the perfect story to share on Halloween.

As everyone in the industry can attest to, the job isn’t always glamourous. A lot of the hard work our industry does happens in between people’s walls, in their attics, and below their homes in crawlspaces.

Jeremy Begley, Owner-Operator of HVAC 2 Home Performance, hasn’t found any skulls in the walls of his clients’ homes but he has discovered something deadly: carbon monoxide. “The scariest thing I ever encountered in someone’s home was undetected carbon monoxide. It was from a backdrafting water heater and was causing low levels of carbon monoxide poisoning to the occupants,” he says. “Plus there’s the time I came face to face with a snake and a possum fighting in a three-foot crawlspace,” he adds. “That was pretty scary.”

But if you ask Begley, the thing that homeowners should be most scared of in their homes is oversized HVAC equipment. Unfortunately, many homeowners end up purchasing an HVAC system that’s too large for their home, not realizing that it can negatively affect their home’s energy efficiency and overall comfort. As he tells all his clients, “if you don’t design, you’ll pay down the line.”

The home and building performance industry is full of professionals ready to help homeowners deal with the scary parts of energy efficiency—things like drafts, right-sized equipment, and tear gas-free insulation. And while every homeowner may not understand the building science behind their home’s comfort, these professionals still go out into neighborhoods every day to make more people’s homes healthier and more efficient.

Are you wondering what Azarelo did with the skull she found? She kept it. “I have it soaking in a jar of biotreatment on my desk,” she says. “One day I’ll take it out and get a brush to make it sparkle!”

Meet the Author

Macie Melendez

Editor in Chief, BPA Journal

Macie Melendez is Editor In Chief at the BPA Journal. In this role, she oversees the entire online publication. The Editor In Chief is responsible for managing all content and ushering each blog, article, and sponsored content through the full process from content acquisition and editing to final publication. She previously worked at the former Home Energy magazine where she started as Assistant Editor and worked her way up to Executive Editor before pursuing a freelance writing career.

Macie has been a writer and editor for two decades, working in various mediums from print magazines and newspapers to online education and script writing. She is passionate about the written word and helping the planet—even if that comes in the form of editing. Macie holds a BA degree in English from San Diego State University.

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