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Getting the Biggest Bang for Your Air-Sealing Buck

If you don’t have time to seal every last crack, which cracks should you seal first?

Posted on Aug 23 2013 by Martin Holladay

Most new homes are leaky. In the typical new home, significant volumes of air enter through cracks near the basement rim joists and exit through ceiling holes on the building’s top floor. These air leaks waste tremendous amount of energy.

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Image Credits:

  1. Graphics courtesy of Owens Corning

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What Makes the ‘Best’ Air Barrier?

A builder weighs his many options for creating a durable air barrier in a high-performance house in Massachusetts

Posted on Aug 12 2013 by Scott Gibson

Bill L. is planning a high-performance house in Massachusetts and is wrestling with options for the 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., that all-important building detail that enhances both energy efficiency and building durability.

Above-grade walls will consist of a 2x4 structural frame sheathed in 1/2-inch plywood, followed by I-joists packed with cellulose insulationThermal insulation made from recycled newspaper or other wastepaper; often treated with borates for fire and insect protection., another layer of 1/2-inch plywood, a corrugated plastic product to provide an air space, and fiber-cement siding. The primary air-barrier plane will be at the plywood over the 2x4 studs.

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Image Credits:

  1. Martin Holladay

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Air Sealing With Sprayable Caulk

Two new brands of goop — Owens Corning EnergyComplete and Knauf EcoSeal — are designed to cut down on air infiltration

Posted on Sep 23 2011 by Martin Holladay

Homes insulated with fiberglass batts are leakier than homes insulated with cellulose or spray polyurethane foam. Until recently, fiberglass batt manufacturers shrugged off the damning air-leakage data, insisting that their batts could deliver the R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. promised on the packaging — and then changed the subject.

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Image Credits:

  1. Owens Corning
  2. Martin Holladay
  3. Knauf

How to Air-Seal an Attic: Introduction

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New Green Building Products — September 2010

Every energy-efficient home needs a tight air barrier. Here are some products that might help: a cover for recessed cans, a caulk for polyethylene, and a handful of new housewraps

Posted on Sep 10 2010 by Martin Holladay

In this new-product roundup, I'll look at a cover for recessed can lights, a new caulk for polyethylene, and several new water-resistive barriers (WRBs) that promise better performance than Tyvek or Typar.

A fire-resistant hat for recessed can lights
A Delaware manufacturer named Tenmat is selling an airtight hat for recessed can lights. Tenmat light covers are made from mineral wool; according to the manufacturer, they are fire-resistant.

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Image Credits:

  1. Tenmat
  2. Cosella-Dörken Products
  3. John Straube
  4. VaproShield

Superinsulation Can't Work if the Windows Leak

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