'Winterizers' arrive in Wrangell
Brian O'Connor/ Wrangell Sentinel
Contractor Gerard Watson works on ducts in the ceiling of a bathroom of a trailer in Bloom's Trailer Court Monday. Watson was one of a six-man crew who came to Wrangell to work on weatherization projects for Alaska SafeTech. The average weatherization costs about $8,600, though it can range above and below that cost, according to SafeTech owner Ron Waldron.
A Sitka-based contractor working with the Alaska Community Development Corporation will conduct hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of winter preparations on local homes.
A six-man crew from Alaska SafeTech industries will work in, outside, and on top of local houses to prepare them for the winter. Between 30 and 35 local residents have already elected to have their houses weatherized and have registered ahead of time, according to SafeTech president Ron Waldron. The crew arrived and began work on Monday.
"The ideal thing would be to get here before winter starts," Waldron quipped.
The winter assistance program receives assistance from state oil tax revenues and funds from the US Department of Energy. Those funds go to Alaska Housing, who then works through contractors like ACDC, Tlingit/Haida and other housing companies. The main contractors hire sub-contractors like SafeTech to perform the actual work.
Additional assistance is available for renters, though in that case, the approval of the landlord or building owner is required, Waldron said.
A family of four must make less than $73,800 in a year to qualify for the assistance program. An additional program, the rebate program, provides a rebate to higher income individuals able to afford the renovations themselves.
An average winterization costs about $8,600, though in some cases, preparations can cost more or less, Waldron said.
Contractors from Sitka-based Alaska SafeTech industries stand in front of a trailer Monday. The crew will repair between 30 and 35 homes in the Wrangell area as part of the Alaska Community Development Corporation's weatherization assistance program.
Outside help is necessary in order to ensure that the preparations are done correctly, Waldron said.
"It's very specific," he said. "A contractor that doesn't have the specific tools for this won't do it correctly."
Repairs focus around airflow and something called the R-factor, which refers a building's capacity to resist heat loss, Waldron said.
"A broken window has an R-factor of zero," he said.
If a broken window is replaced by an insulated window, the R-factor increases, Waldron said.
Besides replacing windows, contractors also work on proper ventilation for stoves, installing vapor shields under the floorboards, and replacing shingles and siding, and working on ceiling ductwork.
Contractors will be in town for two to three months, Waldron said.
Local residents who wish to apply for winterization assistance can do so online at http://www.alaskacdc.org/wa_prog.php.