stack effect

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An Introduction to Pressure Diagnostics

Fans, wind, and the stack effect cause some areas of your home to be pressurized and others to be depressurized

Posted on Aug 18 2017 by Martin Holladay
prime

When it comes to understanding heating systems, most of us are comfortable with the basics. To warm up your house on a cold day, you need a source of heat in your living room — say, a wood stove or a radiator. To keep the heat in your house, you need insulation.

That’s the way most builders understood heating from 1935 to 1980. Somewhere around 1980, however, building scientists began to realize that the old picture was imperfect.


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Image Credits:

  1. Fine Homebuilding

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Cold Floors and Warm Ceilings

How to fix temperature stratification problems

Posted on Nov 25 2016 by Martin Holladay
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During the winter, the air near your floor is cold, while the air near your ceiling is hot. Similarly, during the summer, the air conditioner keeps your first floor comfortable, while the rooms on the second floor are unbearably hot. What’s going on?

The usual answer is, “Heat rises.” But that explanation isn’t quite accurate. (It’s true that hot air rises by convection. But heat travels in all directions, including sideways and downward, by conductionMovement of heat through a material as kinetic energy is transferred from molecule to molecule; the handle of an iron skillet on the stove gets hot due to heat conduction. R-value is a measure of resistance to conductive heat flow. and radiation.)


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Image Credits:

  1. Martin Holladay

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Testing Air Leakage in Multifamily Buildings

In large residential buildings, blower door testing of individual apartments often makes more sense than testing the entire building

Posted on May 12 2016 by Sean Maxwell

In a previous article, I explained why it's important to prevent air leaks between individual apartments in multifamily buildings — a type of air sealing known as "compartmentalization." With my compartmentalization rant over, let me tell you how we can change our building codes to find a solution to the problem of leaky apartments, and why you should support a change to the language of the International Energy Conservation Code.


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Image Credits:

  1. All images: Sean Maxwell — Graph: Steven Winter Associates

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Compartmentalization in Multifamily Buildings

In a large residential building, you don't want any air leaks between apartments

Posted on Apr 26 2016 by Sean Maxwell

At some point in our lives, we’ve all been in an apartment building or a hotel and smelled cigarette smoke or cooking odors from a neighbor. Or maybe you’ve heard an argument (or other things) going on next door that you didn’t want to hear. Let’s face it: living in apartment buildings is not without annoyances.

Fortunately, there are simple ways to alleviate some of these problems: by sealing up the gaps in the walls between apartments. This is “compartmentalization.”


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Image Credits:

  1. All images: Sean Maxwell — Graphs: Steven Winter Associates

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How the Stack Effect Can Defeat Your Winterizing Efforts

Some of the standard tips for winterizing a home may give you a warm and fuzzy feeling but won't give you a warm and cozy house

Posted on Oct 14 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD
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Caulk your windows. Weatherstrip your doors. It's that time of year again.

No, I don't mean the time of year when you should do those things. I mean it's the time of year when all the news stories that include this ineffective advice start appearing. There's a lot of bad advice included in those articles, but let's just look at why the caulking and weatherstripping advice will provide minimal relief.


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Image Credits:

  1. Mtsofan, from flickr.com
  2. Energy Vanguard
  3. Stuart Perkin

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Elevator Shaft Vents Blamed for Big Energy Losses

A new study reports that leaks in New York City apartment buildings waste thousands of dollars annually in lost heat

Posted on Mar 20 2015 by Scott Gibson

A typical apartment building in New York City loses thousands of dollars worth of energy every year from leaky elevator shafts that vent warm air at the top of the building and draw in cold air at the bottom, according to a new report from the city's U.S. Green Building Council chapter.


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Image Credits:

  1. Anthony Greco / Wikimedia Commons

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Heat Loss from Air Is No Big Deal, Right?

No — it's a huge deal, especially if your ceiling is peppered with recessed can lights

Posted on Dec 27 2012 by Erik North

No, it’s a huge deal. The photo (right) is of air streaming through recessed lights in a cathedral ceiling.

I often and exhaustively speak about air sealing as if it were a universal good. And it is, right up there with brown ale and Avengers movies. My audit customers often look confused when I address their insulation questions by bringing up air barriers and air leakage. I mean, “Why are you talking about air leaks when I asked about the insulation?”


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Image Credits:

  1. Eric North

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Who Knew the Stack Effect Could Be So Controversial?

Heat rises, and so does warm air

Posted on Feb 15 2012 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD

Recently, I wrote a little article about the stack effect to explain that the flow of air and heat is upward in winter but downward in summer. Turns out, the stack effect is a hot topic. That article has gotten 25 comments so far. When I posted it to the RESNET BPI group on LinkedIn, it got another 22 comments.


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Image Credits:

  1. by o5com from flickr.com, used under a Creative Commons license

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