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Air Sealing & Insulation

Building envelope consultations Maryland


Recommended First Steps
Air Sealing & Insulation Recommendations
Home Performance with ENERGY ST
AR®

A good place to start if you live in Maryland and you are a BGE or Pepco customer is to get a home energy audit through the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program.  The program is great because it provides you with a comprehensive consultation (audit) so you know exactly what needs to be done to properly tighten your envelope and make the insulation work best for you.  The investment is $100 ($400) value and the program pays for the rest.

Don't make the mistake of adding insulation to your attic or any other area of your home without checking for a pressure barrier first.  As you will see in some of the information below, insulation does not stop the flow of air.

If you have had an audit previously and you are back in the market for home performance work, we can provide you with a free estimate for the work that you need to have done.

You can learn much more about BGE energy audits here and Pepco here.

Building Performance Institute Certified

Qualifications
MHIC # 114593
Building Analyst Certification
Envelope Professional Certification

As a MHIC Licensed Contractor we know the law and how to execute contracts that are clearly expressed and where both parties are in full-agreement of the work scope and terms.  Our contracts are designed to protect our customers as well as our company and are fair and follow MHIC guidelines.

Whether it is to check existing insulation conditions in a home (typically not included in a home inspection), or to make sure that all connections to the outside are sealed before any finishing work is complete in a new construction project,  a certified Building Analyst (BA) can evaluate uncontrolled air leakage into and out of a home and identify heating and cooling problems that lead to high bills and uncomfortable living spaces.

As an Envelope Professional through Building Performance Institute, we have demonstrated the capability of properly prescribing the correct measures to correct the deficiency. 

Common home comfort questions

Typical Questions About Home Comfort
Are any of these questions on your mind?
Comfort Issues = Inadequate Insulation


Should we replace our HVAC to solve comfort?

Why is it so cold downstairs all of the time?

Why does the AC run all day in the summer?

Do we have enough insulation in the attic?

Why are new windows still drafty in winter?

Do we need to add another zone in upstairs?

Why is that room in the house always hot/cold?

Why is it so dusty around the house so quickly?

Why is it so hot upstairs in the summer time?

I have insulation already,  so why doesn't it work?

 

To understand why it is not as effective, think about a winter jacket...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Zipper is to Air Sealing

 

 

Take a walk outside on a cold, breezy day and leave your jacket open.  Air is going to infiltrate in and make your jacket less effective and as a result, you won't be as warm as you could be.  Pull the zipper shut and you are bundled up. 

Same goes for air sealing and insulating.  The holes and cracks need to be "zipped up" before the jacket (insulation) can do it's job well.

Regardless of which material and application is used, insulation is not fully effective unless it is properly installed and fully aligned with a contiguous air barrier. Insulation works because it incorporates air pockets that resist the flow of heat, or slows the conduction of heat. This resistance to heat flow is measured by the R-value of the material. 

You need both parts of the jacket to make it work the best.  The same goes for the insulation around the house.

Insulation & Air Barrier Mis-Alignment

Home performance standards Maryland

Missing Air Barrier

Most insulation is installed incorrectly due to lacking an air barrier.

As a result of most insulation not having the correct physical characteristics, air flows right through diminishing the overall R-value of the insulation.

A proper air barrier should be addressed for each and every insulation project that you consider.  Adding more insulation to a surface this it not tight is a waste of resources.

Aligned Pressure & Thermal Boundary

BPI Envelope Professional Maryland

Installed Air Barrier

Identifying the envelope of your home is the starting place to properly align the pressure and thermal boundary around your home.  

It is a good idea to treat the areas of the home that are accessible (attics, basement rim joist, open crawl spaces) and have the knowledge about what needs to be done in specific areas of the home so that if remodeling projects take place in the future that allow access, you know what to do.

One - Two Punch!
 


1. Air Sealing                           2. Insulation


How to Beat the Maryland Summer Heat
 

How Insulation & Air Sealing Help In Summer


Temperatures in the attic during summer months can be between 150-160 degrees.  It is a brutal place with stifling air and high amount of humidity.  When an attic is not properly vented, air sealed and insulated the building heat and pressure in the attic forces radiant heat through the drywall and slowly, steadily and surely into the house.  

Consider this:

Homeowners that have a minimum insulation level in the attic equal to R-19, reflective roof shingles and proper ventilation can experience up to two-thirds less solar heat gain than those with characteristics such as little to no insulation, dark roofing shingles and no attic ventilation.

In the summer there are "forces" working against us and our ability to achieve comfort.  Heat gain is what is happing inside the house and it is made up of four things that make the temperature rise.

1. Solar Gain - this one is the largest.  It accounts for about 50% of the heat building up inside a home. Windows and the roof are the main entry points for solar gain.

2. Internal Gains - these contributors to the up tick in temperature include computers, lighting, appliances and body heat.  This accounts for 20% of heat build up indoors.

3. Air Leakage - leakage points around the home allow hot, humid air in and cool conditioned air out.  This accounts for 20% of the reason a home gets warmer and needs to use more energy to get cooled down.

4. Heat transmission - heat transmission through the building shell during summer is much less impactful because the temperature variance between the summer indoor/outdoor temperature is less than in winter.  This is 10% of the temperature rise.

Summer remedies for the attic include: proper ventilation intake, proper baffle installation, proper insulation levels, proper air sealing, rim joist/ crawl space air sealing and insulation.

Compare the healthy attic left with the unhealthy attic on the right.

Thermal image of a ceiling that is missing insulation taken during summer.  The heat from the hot attic radiates rapidly into the home if insulation is mis-aligned.


How to Take Hold of the Winter Cold
 

Stack Effect


In the winter, the heat runs warm air through ducts to increase the temperature inside.  As the temperature decreases outside the pressure in the house increases and it is a well known fact that warm air rises and when it does it gets pushed through cracks and crevices at the ceiling and other less well known areas known as exfiltration points (see diagram).   Infiltration of cold air occurs at the foundation level.  For this issue (stack effect) it is critical to have air sealing completed so that the warm air that you are paying for has nowhere to go when it is cold outside!

Proper Insulation
Equally important to the warm home in winter is to have the right amount of insulation to prevent radiant heat from traveling from inside through the wall and into the attic or other areas of the home touching the outside.  By slowing the transfer of heat with insulation it helps to keep the inside (envelope) "bundled up" like the layers of a nice winter coat.


Attic Exfiltration Points
1. Plumbing vent bypass
2. Chimney bypass
3. Attic access hatch
4. Interior wall top plate
5. Electrical box bypass
6. Duct chaseway
7. Exterior wall top plate

 

Winter Month Key Measures

Zip Up Big Thick Layer
Holes Identify Thermal Boundary
Crevices Kneewalls
Cracks Attic Floor
Bypasses Slopes
Overhangs Crawl space
Floor Bypasses Rim Joist
Hometrust Remodeling - About Us

Eric Gans - Building Analyst

Hometrust Remodeling - About Us


The core of Hometrust Remodeling's mission is to help homeowners build a home improvement priority list based on testing, investigation and building science principles in order to solve problems - not make them worse.

Since 2006, our team has conducted over five thousand in-home evaluations for Maryland homeowners including in-depth home energy audits, replacement window consultations and siding estimates.

We are licensed in Maryland and we are certified Building Analysts & Envelope Professionals through the Building Performance Institute so we can evaluate uncontrolled air leakage into and out of a home and identify heating and cooling problems that lead to high bills and uncomfortable living spaces as well as prescribe appropriate measures to fix the uncovered issues.

Contact Us

Consultations in Pretty Much Any Town in Maryland
Call Today!  301-957-6532

Contact Us in Maryland

Yes, we want to connect with you!  No matter what stage of living in your home you happen to be, we want to partner with you to make it more efficient and comfortable.

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Hometrust Remodeling

info@hometrustremodeling.com
301.957.6532
North Laurel, MD 20723

Building Analyst Maryland Consulting Services

Specialized Maryland Contractor
  • MHIC Licensed
  • Building Analyst Certified
  • Envelope Professional Certification
  • EPA Lead Renovator Certified

Hometrust Remodeling is a licensed contractor specializing in a whole-house approach to home remodeling with an emphasis on educating our customers, providing energy efficient solutions, maintaining a network of high caliber technicians and using building science principles.  As a result, we can effectively guide Maryland homeowners towards projects that satisfy comfort needs, aesthetics and value.

Service Areas

Calvert County, Carroll County, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George's County

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Hometrust Remodeling
North Laurel, MD 20723
301.957.6532
info@hometrustremodeling.com
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