Air penetration can explain the loss of 30 percent or more of a home’s heating/cooling costs. It can also cause more problems with moisture, noise, dust, indoor air quality, and pests. Proper air sealing can cut down en these specific issues to reduce heating /cooling costs.
Generally, ceilings, walls, and floor/foundation separate the inside conditioned space from the outside or unconditioned space forming both the air barrier and the thermal barrier for the house. A visual inspection is used to verify the thermal barrier, but a blower door test is used to measure a home’s airflow and can help find leakage sites.
Reducing the amount of air leaking in and out of your home is a cost-effective way to cut cooling and heating costs, improve durability, increase comfort, and create a healthier indoor environment.
Air Leakage is when outside, uncontrolled air enters through cracks and openings into the conditioned air existing in your home. Air Leakage can also contribute to moisture problems that can affect the health of those living in the home, and the durability to the home structure. It is recommended that you reduce air leakage as much as possible and to provide controlled ventilation as needed. (Do not rely on air leakage as a means for air ventilation.
Caulking and weatherstripping are the two most effective way to air seal. Caulk is usually used for cracks and openings that are stationary in the home, such as windows and door frames; while weatherstripping is used to seal moving areas such as doors and windows which open and close.
Testing your home for air tightness can help to identify where leakage is occurring. Once discovered, a determination can be made as to what appropriate steps are necessary to remedy the air leakage. Air leaks can be found, but are not limited to, areas where plumbing, electrical, and ducting come through walls, floors, ceilings and soffits above cabinets. Also, sealing around chimney, furnaces and gas water heater vents can be areas of leakage, but are sealed with fire-resistant materials like sheet metal/rock or furnace cement caulk.
A clothes dryer is one of the hardest-working appliances in your home. It is also a fairly basic appliance in how it operates, and if it’s properly vented and maintained, it should give you years, of reliable service. To insure dryer ventilation is done correctly, an inspection is an easy and cost effective way to determine the efficiency of the ventilation.
If the duct is in a heated space, such as the inside of the house or in a finished basement it doesn’t need to be insulated. If it’s running through the ceiling to a crawl space/attic, a basement or other unconditioned space where freezing is possible, the duct needs to be insulated. Insulation helps prevent the moisture in the exhaust air from freezing inside the pipe, which would later lead to condensation and potential moisture problems when the pipe warms up and the ice melts.
Your dryer only has the power to push that heavy, wet lint so far, so it’s inevitable that some of it is going remain behind in the vent pipe. As I mentioned before, a buildup of lint in the vent reduces the air flow and affects your dryer’s performance, so it should be professionally cleaned out periodically.
How often the venting is cleaned is a matter of how much use your dryer gets. Large families that do lots of laundry should consider having it cleaned every six months, while someone living alone and doing laundry once a week or so might need to have it done every 3-4 years.
Gable vents can be installed on the exterior wall of an attic to create proper air circulation. In summer, overheating can occur causing damage due to hot air unable to escape or additional heat entering home causing higher energy usage. In winter, the cold trapped air can cause mold, mildew, leaks and/or rot if the air cannot escape properly.
Gable ventilation is achieved by installing vents on the exterior wall of your attic to create proper air flow through your attic in times of extreme hot or cold weather conditions. The attic will bare the impact of significant temperature changes and needs to be properly ventilated to ensure better comfort in the home and regulate energy costs.
The gable vents serve in keeping out the rain, preventing leakage, avoiding deterioration of materials in attic, and lowering utility costs, yet they may not be able the complete answer. If your attic is large, they may need to work in conjunction with soffit vents and/or ridge vents to completely ventilate the attic properly.
A vented attic works where insulation is placed on an air sealed attic floor in hot/cold and mixed climates, when properly executed. The intent in cold climates is to maintain a cold roof temperature to prevent ice dams due to melting snow. In hot climates, to rid the attic of hot air to reduce the strain on cooling thus saving on energy costs. In mixed climates it will do the job of both.
The most common type of exhaust vents are ridge vents. They are installed where two roof planes come together (ridges). They are typically made of molded, sturdy polymer and are installed underneath a final layer of shingles to give a seamless look to the roof.
The box vent is installed over a hole cut into the roof, creating an opening for hot air and moisture to escape. They are both metal and hard plastic and are most effective when installed as close to the ridge line as possible.
Obviously, in the summer, the release of hot air from the home is important to help relieve the stress in cooling mechanics to conserve energy. But moisture release is also important in summer and winter. For extreme cold conditions, ice damming occurs when heat from inside your attic combines with heat from the sun to melt snow and ice on your warm roof. When water runs to the edge of the roof, it begins to refreeze. As the ice and water build up at the edges of your roof, it can back up behind and under the roofing materials, causing damage to your roof, your attic and even inside the walls of your home.
Proper ventilation helps this warm air escape before it has a chance to melt the snow and ice on your roof. A well-vented roof is easy to see in the winter months. It still has snow on the roof, but not an icicle in sight.
A soffit vent is a vent installed under the eaves or soffit of your home. It allows fresh air to enter your attic and be drawn out through gable vents, recycling the air and allowing the heat to escape or for cold air to enter and keep the snow/ice from melting causing ice damming.
If your home only has small gable vents or a vents high in the roof, you might want to think adding soffit vents to increase airflow. These vents allow outside air to enter the attic at the lowest point of the roof, along the underside of the eave.
Aside for the obvious energy savings, proper venting will also keep additional aging and damage to the roof from occurring, saving money.
In cold climates, the warm moist air, that escapes from the living space below, can linger and condense on the underside of the roof causing rot. Warmer climates have the problem of severely hot and possibly moist air building up and the need for that air to escape the attic is just as important. Most new homes already have soffit venting included, however older homes can benefit from the addition of soffit vents to increase energy efficiency.