TexasIsHot – Energy Efficiency

Air Leaks

Jul 02 2010

Do It Yourself Energy Efficiency Projects – Your Home’s Thermal Envelope

Many individuals struggling via the powerful economy aren’t going to be able to take benefit of the 2009-10 Energy Efficiency Tax Credit simply because they can’t afford new home windows and doors, water heaters, or more insulation. However, there are a few things you can do around your own home to air seal it to economize during the winter months and throughout the summer.

Because of the worth and use of energy, architects and builders now design a home to be a “thermal envelope”. That is the sum complete of the home’s insulation systems including walls, ceilings, foundation, floors, windows, and doors. These work more successfully with good, tight suits that seal out the weather and air. By having a decent seal in your home’s thermal envelope, the less vitality you waste or lose by exchanging it too often with the air outside.

So, with this in mind, let’s begin at ground level and work our way up to seal your house.

Moisture Barrier

A moisture barrier (usually plastic sheeting) covers the earth beneath a structure to forestall moisture from infiltrating the structure from the ground. All-wooden structures last years longer if they are kept dry and out of contact with the ground. For a house, not solely does it help forestall rot but it surely also helps keep the drier. Because moisture within the air holds heat, even during probably the most humid months, a moisture barrier will make your Texas home feel drier and cooler.

Most Texas homes are built on both a slab or have crawl spaces under them. Houses with slab foundations usually have concrete poured on prime of a plastic moisture barrier. This limits the infiltration of moisture into the thermal envelope of the house. Homes with crawl spaces, meanwhile, function a moisture barrier in their crawl spaces. Some older homes do not need one and these may be installed by the home owner very easily.

A moisture barrier is plastic sheeting, usually about 6-8 mils thick and is accessible at any hardware store, sometimes in sizes ranging from 25 × 25 ft to 100 × a hundred feet. It also needn’t be one single piece of plastic. As long because the sheets overlap each other by about 6 inches or so, it will likely be effective.

To install, you’ll need to know the size of your crawl house and buy sufficient plastic sheeting to cover the bottom in that space. Simply minimize the plastic sheeting to cover the earth from wall to wall, laying it flat. You can use either black or clear plastic, but I would use clear because black plastic would make your crawl house feel like a cramped model of Batman’s lair.

You ought to notice the difference within 24 hours. If your home feels too dry, simply fold back among the plastic sheeting to expose the earth underneath. Continue adjusting until your own home feels essentially the most comfortable to you.

As mentioned, moisture barriers restrict the infiltration of moisture into the thermal envelope of the house. The house feels drier: It will be easier to cool in the summer and less more likely to develop mold or contribute to wooden rot within the winter.

Mudsill and Rim Joists

The next place to take a look at is the mudsill. The mudsill is the board that’s bolted flat on to the top of the foundation wall. An example of one is a 2×8 board bolted onto the ultimate course of cement blocks. It offers a bed to connect the flooring joists and banding boards for the first floor of the house. Depending on how well it is installed, it might let in numerous cold air and moisture.

Places to search for gaps is where the mudsill is mounted to the foundation. A widespread building practice now’s to put down a plastic foam gasket over the inspiration before attaching the pressure treated lumber that will be the mudsill. In older homes, both a paper-backed cellulose material was put down or nothing was used. To find gaps, get as close as potential to the mudsill from the within and search for daylight shining through between the mudsill and the inspiration wall and feel for a draft of cool air.

If your basis is manufactured from cement blocks, search for the vertical joints between the blocks. When these blocks are put into place, the mortar between the blocks typically slumps leaving skinny mortar or none at all. Over time as the home settles, holes can appear. While these could be small holes that let through tiny amounts of air, if your property has 10 or 20 of them, you’re letting in a number of weather and insects. Seal every hole you discover with silicon caulk or expanding foam.

Another place alongside the mudsill to look for is where the rim joists attach. The rim joist (sometimes referred to as “banding joist”) is the piece of wooden that closes off the end of the flooring joist or is the last ground joist underneath the exterior wall. The bottom edge will not be necessarily an air-tight seal. In fact, I lived in a single older house where there was a half-inch hole between the rim joist and mudsill. Now, while this appears small, the gap ran for all the length of the house: 25 feet. It was the equal of leaving a 24 inch by 24 inch window open all of the time. Some expandable foam quickly sealed this gap and there was a noticeable enchancment in comfort and value right away.


If you’ve got double-hung picket sash windows with storm windows that are drafty, there are several ways to make them more energy efficient.

Make sure the glazing on the glass panes of the sash windows will not be cracked or crumbling. The glazing helps maintain and seal the glass to the wood window and thus blocks drafts and quiets rattling – particularly from traffic. It also lessens the probability that the glass will break if a pet or a toddler presses towards it. Glazing is something of a skilled art. That being said, it’s not that tough to do. Re-glazing a window your self can prevent $50 to $100 or more. All you need is glazing putty ($5), a putty knife ($2), some glaziers’ factors ($2 for a box of 100) and some time.

First, remove any old, cracked, or crumbling glazing with a putty knife. Glazing putty dries to be very, very hard and will last decades. It will be loosened with a heat gun, but keep the gun moving or the heat will crack the glass.

When the previous putty has been removed, remove all the old glaziers’ points. Now, lift out the pane and set it aside. Sand the channel where the pane fits on the wooden sash. Usually, I apply a thin bead of silicone caulk in this channel before changing the glass. This helps to seat and seal the glass pane. This especially helps when working on a number of small panes (called “lights”) separated by skinny or fragile wood mullions (also known as “muntins”). Next, insert new glaziers points. This is finished by using the putty knife to press points into the picket sash along the glass pane to maintain it in place. Take your time so that you don’t break the glass.

Glazing putty can be purchased in both a can or a tube with a formed tip that fits in a caulking gun. However, it does take some apply to get just the correct angle and right amount of putty on the glass. When using the tube mix, maintain the forty five degree angled tip steadily against the glass and lay a bead of putty the length of backside of the pane. If you’re utilizing the putty from the can, roll the putty into long snake (or rope) and place it along the sting of the pane and along the wood. Gently press it into position so that it forms a nice 45 degree angle with the putty knife. The putty is shaped this way so that water runs off the glass to the sting of the window sash as a substitute of into the window pane channel where it could rot the wood.

The next factor to search for is in case your windows shut snugly. Both the top and bottom window have what known as a “meeting rail”. On the upper window, it’s the bottom of the window and on the underside window it’s the top. These meeting rails are shaped in order that they mesh together when they close. This helps seat and seal the window properly. Check to see if the underside window runs firmly – but not tightly – along the window jamb as you close the window. If it’s too loose and wiggles back and forth, it probably won’t seat very tightly when it’s closed. You can use a putty knife to pry out the window jambs and then re-position them to improve how tightly the window will close. You might strive adding felt or self-adhesive foam weather stripping. Also be sure you clean out any debris from the window to make sure the window will seat and seal snugly.

As steel storm home windows age, the harder they appear to close. This usually happens due to dirt and corrosion. Make positive the window tracks are clean and freed from dirt and particles so the window runs smoothly.

Outside, test that the storm window frame is held tightly in place in opposition to the picket window frame. Screws that hold this body in place may be loose and might should be replaced or moved to a new spot. Most drafts from storms windows come from where the storm window body meets the wooden window frame. Once you’re sure the storm window body is secure, lay a bead of caulk into the seam where the metal storm window frame meets the wooden window frame. Typically, there are two slots lower into the underside apron of the storm window frame. Do not seal these. These are weep holes that allow condensation to escape.

If you could have modern, double glazed home windows (windows with two panes of glass), one of the things to look out for is fogging between the panes. Double glazed windows are made by attaching a pane of glass with adhesive to either facet of a half-inch wide aluminum frame both in a vacuum or a really dry environment. It is then a single unit and is installed into a standardized window frame. Fogging is a sign that the seal on the window unit has failed and water vapor has penetrated into the house between the panes. If the fogging remains to be present in summer, it’s an excellent guess that acids have additionally leeched in with the water vapor and have completely etched the window glass. If the fogging disappears when the window warms, then it’s not too late to treat it. Examine the wooden of the window for any discoloration from moisture. Look for peeling, flaking paint or soft, gray-colored wood. If you find some, sand it smooth and then seal it with an oil-based enamel or polyurethane. If the wood is very soft, you might try using an epoxy formulated to penetrate and protect rotten wood. Be sure to mask the glass first with painter’s tape.

A builder installs a door or window with wedges called shims in order that the window can float inside a rough opening within the framing. While this lets the door or window open and close freely as it expands and contracts throughout the year, it also means quite a lot of outside air can infiltrate your own home by getting in across the window frame if it has not been insulated or if it has been damaged. During the summer, it often isn’t a noticeable problem. During the winter, though, for those who see moisture or mildew there might be a problem with the window frame.

Look outside for harm to the siding and window frame. Look for holes or wet, rotten wood, or even a loose piece of siding. It’s vital to clean and seal issues like these quickly, particularly if moisture has been getting inside your wall, as a result of the harm will simply worsen over time. Rotten or broken siding will be replaced simply with new items from the hardware store. Rotten or broken window sills needs to be completely eliminated and replaced and the inside of the wall inspected for mold, rot, and different damage. However, that is no small job and requires time and abilities to complete. It might need the hand of a professional. For an immediate, short-term fix, clear out the rotten wood as best you possibly can and fill the hole with fiberglass auto physique putty. This will present a hard, waterproof barrier against the weather. Be positive to contour and shape it so that it’ll not intervene with opening and shutting the window.

If moisture or rain is getting into your window frame, test to see if any of your rain gutters run over head. Check to see if these are clogged. Also, consider putting in drip edging along the top of your windows to help run water round and away from the home windows and siding when it rains. After you’ve installed it, make sure to caulk it in place so moisture can’t penetrate behind it.

A lot of oldsters consider it hideous to place over your windows but it should keep the wind out: clear plastic sheeting. This might be the easiest temporary energy fix homeowners of older properties use to keep cold, damp winter weather out. There are two approaches: Apply the clear plastic sheeting to the surface of the window by stapling it to the wooden window frame and then nailing lathe over the stapled edge to safe the plastic. Or apply the plastic sheeting to double-sided tape on the within of the window frame (usually out there in kits from the home center). To be sure, neither is an attractive solution. However, if you have an older house with double-hung home windows in poor condition, this short-term repair does so much for only $10 and about 15 minutes of work. In fact, even when your windows close snugly, it may not be a bad idea for a north-facing window that doesn’t have a lot of a view.

Energy Efficient Window Treatments: “It’s Curtains for You!”

Curtains not solely add style, color, and privacy to a room, additionally they act as an insulating blanket for one of the thermally conductive elements of the house: the windows. Curtains are even more effective at sealing off a window after they have thermal backing. Thermal backing is normally foam because foam permits water vapor to move through the fabric moderately than condensing on the cold facet toward the window and inflicting moisture problems. An additional benefit to thermal curtains is that they help deaden noise from outside that’s normally transmitted into the room by the window glass. In the summer, the curtains also block hot sun.

Thermal curtains might be made even more efficient by adding a valance with a top. Usually, window valances conceal the curtain hardware such because the rods and brackets. However, if the valance has a high cover, heat air that will normally flow into down between the cool glass and the back of the curtain is blocked. Valances can be made with plywood after which stained, painted, or covered in fabric.

Another choice is a window quilt. These are blanket-like shade that roll all the way down to cover the window. Some are held tightly in place by magnetic strips connected to each the quilt and the window frame.

Finally, one last accessory for the double hung window is the Window Worm. This is a fabric tube about 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter and is so long as a window is wide. It is stuffed with quilting foam or cloth scraps and laid along where the highest and backside window sashes meet to help keep out drafts. Longer ones weighted with sand can be made and positioned across the foot of doors.

[Word City Article Directory]

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