If you ask your snowbird neighbors, they can attest to the importance of home insulation and sealing to help keep warm during the winter. Read on to learn why sealing and insulating your Bradenton home’s envelope is equally important to keep the cool air inside, humidity out and more savings in your pocketbook.
Energy Dollars and Comfort Sense
There are a number of heat gain issues to contend with in the typical home. The orientation of the home to the sun makes some rooms warmer, while across the hall is perfectly comfortable. Airflow issues, perhaps from duct leaks or lack of return grilles, can make some areas of the home feel stuffy. Moreover, if your home has multiple floors, trying to make everyone comfortable is exhausting in and of itself.
Following are four advantages of sealing and insulating your home:
- Savings — Sealing air leaks and boosting insulation to Energy Star standards can shrink the cooling (and heating) bill by about 20 percent in the average home.
- Comfort — Minimizing heat gain, and the frequency which the A/C cycles on and off, boosts comfort 24/7.
- A/C performance — Sealing the home’s envelope reduces the cooling load placed on the A/C or heat pump, which reduces usage, wear and repairs.
- Air quality — Air infiltration between the living spaces and air outside the envelope can introduce contaminants, such as Volatile Organic Compounds from building structure. Seal the envelope and breathe more healthful air in your home.
The elements of good air sealing are finding the leaks, and sealing the leaks using quality materials that will last through the years. Your HVAC professional uses a blower door test to locate air leaks in the envelope. The home is depressurized using a large fan, which pulls air outside the home in through cracks, gaps and holes in the shell. More sophisticated instruments are used to measure the rate of leakage, and specific locations.
For do-it-yourselfers, an incense stick or smoke pencil can identify leaks, too. Keep your eye on the natural smoke waft.
- Move the incense stick or smoke pencil around exterior doors, windows, attic hatch, shared walls and door of an attached garage, wall switch plates, kitchen and bath fans, baseboards and air registers.
- A visual inspection of the home’s exterior can identify holes and cracks. Check all piping and cable entry points through the shell, including spigots, dryer vents, TV cables and central A/C piping (split systems) and exterior duct trunk (packaged systems).
Just about all air leaks may be successfully sealed with caulk, weatherstripping and spray foam. Caulk and weatherstripping are available in an assortment of materials and colors that best suit the application. Following are basic examples:
- Clear silicon caulk in a squeeze tube is easier (and less mess) to apply to thin window-sill cracks than a caulk gun.
- Foam weatherstripping should be applied around the perimeter of the attic hatch.
- Rubber weatherstripping tubes may be best around the entry door and garage access doors.
- Expanding foam spray nicely seals holes in exterior walls found around water spigots, piping and cables.
Boost Insulation, Boost Savings
Adding insulation seems simple enough, until you open the attic hatch and wonder if that’s what 155 degrees and 99 percent humidity feel like. But, now you have first-hand knowledge why sealing and insulating is important to stop heat gain to the cooled living spaces of the home. Following are some of the steps performed by your cooling contractor:
- Your cooling contractor uses infrared imaging to measure heat gain/losses through the home’s exterior shell.
- A thorough visual inspection is performed to locate damaged insulation, such as moldy or wet portions. All damaged insulation is useless and must be replaced.
- A drill and telescopic cameras may be required to measure insulation inside inaccessible walls and other locations in the home.
The state of your home’s insulation is discussed in detail, including the type of insulation in the attic, walls and beneath the floor (if any). If you have decided to boost insulation, keep in mind that it is not necessary to add the same insulation material. For instance, you may wish to add loose-fill cellulose to wall cavities in places where the building contractor failed to install fiberglass batts.
All the specs and options should be thoroughly outlined and discussed so that you can make an intelligent home-improvement decision based on facts, heat gain/loss figures (Manual J) and bottom-line savings.
For more information about sealing and insulating your Bradenton home, please contact the professionals at Aqua Plumbing & Air today.
Written by John Miller
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