Healthy Indoors Magazine - USA Edition

HI Jan 2018

Healthy Indoors Magazine

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32 | HOUSE WHISPERER — January 2018 Making your home a refuge has a similar path for all homes. This assumes that your home is water-tight and doesn't have any roof, plumbing, or basement leaks. If you don't keep water out, you don't really have a building. After any water leaks are dealt with, the path will almost always follow the Five Priorities: 1, Air seal the house to reduce air leakage 2. Air seal the house more to reduce air leakage 3. Keep air sealing the house to reduce air leakage 4. Insulate better 5. Install the right HVAC–HVAC (heating, ventilation, and cooling system) that is properly sized, specified, installed, and optimized with sealed and right-sized duct work. This will allow you to really take control of your tighter and better insulated home. Do you get the idea that air sealing is very, very import- ant? It's critical. No, the mainstream still does not make a big deal about it (though things are changing). After wa- ter-tightness, no other factor comes close to air sealing in importance for human comfort. The Pier Analogy Here's one way to picture air sealing: imagine you're stand- ing on a pier in the middle of winter with a 30 mile per hour wind blowing.You're only wearing a t-shirt and jeans, so the wind cuts right through you. Waves are crashing into the pier pilings and nearby rocks. The spray is hitting you. As you feel the wind blowing icily through your paper-thin shirt, you're quickly frozen to the core. Now imagine that I cruelly give you the choice between a windbreaker and a very loose knit sweater, the type with big gaps in the weaving of it. These two coverings are your only choices to wear out on that pier with the wind gusting and waves crashing. Which would you choose? Of course, you take the windbreaker! Since the wind and water will blow right through the sweater, you might as well have nothing on. Air sealing is the windbreaker, while most insulation is the loose knit sweater. Without air seal- ing, insulation is almost useless. This is how your house works, too: air leaking through insulation makes the insula- tion almost useless. I'm called to many older homes that have recently been "insulated," but because they're still very leaky, they remain drafty and cold. Even when the wind is not blowing those houses experience air-flow due to the house acting like a smokestack (more on that later). These homes are wearing a sweater on a cold pier. Combine the windbreaker and the sweater, and the pair- ing is almost magical. They are Batman and Robin. The insulation is the sidekick, though. Air sealing does most of the butt kicking and gets to wear the cool suit. There are so many comfort and moisture problems in a house that can be traced back to air leakage. I almost can't overemphasize the importance of reducing air leakage! The 5 Priorities for Creating Comfort- able, Efficient Homes By Nate Adams

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