air sealing

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Insulating a Cape Cod House

Capes are notoriously difficult to air seal and insulate

Posted on Dec 11 2015 by Martin Holladay
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If you own an older Cape Cod home, you have my sympathy. If you’re the type of homeowner who regularly tackles DIY projects, you’ve probably spent weeks chasing air leaks with a foam gun, lying on your back in a cramped attic. And there's a good chance that, in spite of your efforts, your house still suffers from ice dams.

I’m sorry for your troubles. You deserve better.

If you are thinking of building a new Cape, it’s not too late to get the details right — as long as you’re still at the planning stage.


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Image Credits:

  1. Image #1: University of Illinois at Chicago library
  2. Image #2: Southface Energy Institute

How to Replace an Old Entry Door

Best Practices for Installing a New Entry Door

Replacing a weathered or inefficient entry door can have a great impact on the comfort, appearance and value of a home.

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Attic-Insulation Upgrade

Seal air leaks first; then add extra insulation for an energy-saving improvement with great bang for the buck

Posted on Feb 9 2015 by Mike Guertin
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Do you want to keep your heating costs from going through the roof? It’s easy: Keep your heat from going through the roof. Saving money on heating-fuel costs is a lot simpler than negotiating with OPEC or your local utility. On a recent upgrade in the attic of a 1950s-era house (one of two projects shown here), I air-sealed and spread a 12-in.- deep layer of cellulose throughout 1500 sq. ft. of space in about a day.


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Spray Foam Insulated Homes Need Ventilation

Contractors who don't ensure adequate ventilation put themselves — and their customers — at risk

Posted on Oct 22 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD

Most installations of spray foam insulation, when properly installed, act as an air barrierBuilding assembly components that work as a system to restrict air flow through the building envelope. Air barriers may or may not act as a vapor barrier. The air barrier can be on the exterior, the interior of the assembly, or both.. When you use it instead of the fluffy stuff (fiberglass, cellulose, cotton), a house will be more airtight. That's good.

When a house is airtight, the nasties in the indoor air tend to stick around. Volatile organic compounds (VOCsVolatile organic compound. An organic compound that evaporates readily into the atmosphere; as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, VOCs are organic compounds that volatize and then become involved in photochemical smog production.), water vapor, odors, radonColorless, odorless, short-lived radioactive gas that can seep into homes and result in lung cancer risk. Radon and its decay products emit cancer-causing alpha, beta, and gamma particles., and other stuff you don't want to immerse yourself in make the home's indoor air quality worse.


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Image Credits:

  1. Energy Vanguard

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Seeking the Elusive Grade 1 Batt Installation

I finally found insulation contractors capable of Grade 1 work — in the very competitive multifamily market

Posted on Sep 4 2014 by Carl Seville

Having spent much of my time writing for GBAGreenBuildingAdvisor.com whining and complaining about the state of the insulation industry, it is now time for me to eat a little crow. The insulation work at one of our multifamily certification projects has, amazingly, met – and even possibly exceeded – my expectations for quality.


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What’s More Important, Air-Sealing or Insulation?

A reader planning a new house wonders how to best use a limited construction budget

Posted on Aug 25 2014 by Scott Gibson

Green Building Advisor reader Ani Brown is getting ready to build a new house, and like most people in her position Brown will have to make some important choices on how to make the most of a limited construction budget.

Her immediate concern is insulation and air-sealing, two related details that will have a lot to do with how comfortable and durable the new house will be.


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Image Credits:

  1. Dennis Schroeder/National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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Multifamily Green Building Certification Still Has Issues

We’re making progress — but for many designers and builders, there is still a long way to go

Posted on Jul 29 2014 by Carl Seville

Much of my work these days involves certification of multifamily buildings, and, thanks to a boom in apartment construction, my partner and myself are staying occupied.

The one major contrast from single-family residential work, with which I am most familiar from my days as a contractor, is the long lead time. I still find it amusing that I sign a contract, have an initial start-up meeting with the developer and contractor, and often don’t see the project for another year or more, when the builder is ready for our insulation and air-sealing inspections.


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Image Credits:

  1. All photos: Carl Seville

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Air Leaks From Your Home To Your Attic Need To Be Sealed

If your house has an attic, there needs to be an air barrier that keeps the attic space separate from the rest of the building

Posted on Jul 3 2014 by A. Tamasin Sterner

It’s important to keep attic air out of the house and house air out of the attic. That's why the home performance industry and every above-code building program make it a top priority to fully separate attics from the rest of the building.

When the attic isn’t fully air sealed from the living space and the combustion appliance zone, three undesirable scenarios can occur:


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Image Credits:

  1. All photos: Pure Energy Coach

Passive House video — Episode 3

In “Superinsulated Slab,” the third episode in a series of videos on Passivhaus construction, the crew installs 10 inches of rigid foam.

After the concrete was placed, more rigid foam was installed above the slab. The finished floor assembly is rated at R-50.

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A Review of Siga Wigluv Air-Sealing Tape

To seal air leakage at OSB seams, first use a primer, and install the Wigluv tape with a J-roller

Posted on Feb 11 2014 by Matt Risinger

Every house needs four control layers. In order of importance, these layers need to provide:

  1. 1. Water control
  2. 2. Air control
  3. 3. Vapor control
  4. 4. Thermal control

The building codes have dictated the levels of thermal control and vapor control that builders must adhere to, and nearly every builder in the U.S. knows off the top of their head the R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. of the insulation in their walls and attics.


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Image Credits:

  1. All photos: Matt Risinger

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