Is your house cold, drafty, expensive to heat?


This is us in the process of doing another home. Seeing were in the heating mode, I thought this may shed some light on why it happens. This house is a split level with several overhangs that extend the walls beyond the foundation. After doing a energy audit and interviewing the owner who complained of cold feet in the rooms where these overhangs were located. We opened up them and found that the builder on this 45 year old home used foil backed insulation that was 3" thick. The insulation was filled with mouse droppings, saturated damp with moisture due to attempts by the owner running humidifiers in the house with no results and insulation filled with dust collection from air leaks coming from the outside of the home.
We removed all of the soffits and removed all the damaged insulation. When looking up into the floor cavities we could see daylight out the other side of the house over 20 feet away. Light fixtures that were put into the ceiling leaked tremendous amounts of air when we did our air testing. All of this air was the result of leakage from the overhangs.
Once cleaned out we sprayed about 2.5 inches of closed cell insulation blocking the air flow from entering into the wall cavity. Followed by Eco Batt insulation that has a R rating of 30. The combined R value is R-48 for the overhangs.
Using foam boards to act as a dam to hold the spray foam up between each bay we successfully stopped the air flow through all of the floor joists on two levels of the home. Tests reveal that we stopped over 80% of the air leaks in this home. This will result in an estimated savings of over $900 per year in heat bills while improving comfort and safety.
Air sealing a home has many benefits. Air flowing through walls entering from the outside and leaving out through the attic draws dust, humidity, mold and air pollution into the home making it in some instances worse then the air outside to breath.
AS this occurs your heating and cooling system needs to overcome the new so called "fresh" air that enters as a result. This causes the need to have larger HVAC equipment to handle not only the loads of the house, but to provide enough capacity to handle what is leaking into the house. Add to that in summer you are allowing more moisture to enter and in winter your bringing in dry air that needs to have moisture added to it.
If you simply air seal that will stop all the leakage and lower your costs of operation.
You do not need to use the foam methods that we use, a simple caulking gun with a good quality sealant will do the trick. The more you seal the more you will save.
Rear overhang in process of removal of soffit
3" of Insulation that was found above the 10" floor joists on the overhang
Insulation prior to removal. Note the black staining. This is caused by air moving through the insulation up into the floor cavity. Floor temps were only 15 degrees above outside temps.
Air sealing using foam in the cavity. This is R-18 foam. Followed by ECO Batt insulation that will bring the floor cavity up to R-48.
Attic air sealing project. Notice can light splices outside of the fixture. With paper backing on insulation that was covering and surrounding light. This was a fire waiting to happen in this home.
This is the new direct contact fixture with the proper wiring done in the box. The pliers point to a thermal device within the fixture that should it overheat due to wrong bulb, It will trip and shut off light until it cools down.
This is some of the newer insulation blanket that was placed over the older insulation within the attic. Notice the black streaks. This is caused by air flowing up from around the walls within the attic.
This is what is found when insulation is removed. We use foam to air seal all of these gaps, including any wire openings, pipe vents etc.
Notice all of the displaced insulation in attic. The result of many "trades" that are supposed to be professionals.
Here again is insulation that was displaced and varied due to all the so called improvements in the attic.
Notice the paper backed insulation. This is kindling for the light fixtures that overheat and spark because of poor wiring practices found in this attic
Notice the black stains round this wire. Air is moving up and out of the walls where these holes are located. This results in dust stains on the insulation.

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2 of 5 comments
  • Marie R
    on Feb 11, 2013

    Lots of info...thanks!

  • Charlotte Belange
    on Dec 8, 2013

    If you live in a rental and can't do or get your land lord to do it check with your local Community Action Council they have Energy Assistance Program they have programs for the owner that is really great. I live in Washington state we have a great CAC program. Char B YELM,WA

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