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  #1  
Old 12-04-2021, 09:45 PM
holliswuzamember
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Default air sealing a house

okay, I think I did a pretty good job of air sealing my house. We do this to all of our apartments as tenants move out and it has really helped with heating bills both on the apartments and my house.

We use a number of things,.. an infrared camera, and a blower door are the two best things. Actually we seldom use a blower door anymore but put a high-capacity fan in one window set back about a foot and 1/2..Blowing out on the first floor. Closing everything up including (temporarily and label the on/off switch to remember to clear them before they are switched back on) each stacks for the furnace and hot water. We then turn on the fan and if you stand outside, you feel the huge amount of air rushing out that you have to heat. There is a lot of pressure for cold air to push in and that air is coming in just as fast on a very cold day.

Then you can go inside and use a moist hand /the infrared camera, or a piece of smoky incense and find any leaks. At first some of them are pretty big. We usually close all the interior doors and pop one open at a time to find which are the leakiest rooms. Then we spend time for the worst ones first.

Does it make a difference? Yeah sure does ,..we spend less on heating bills then we used to. Also on those very windy days we feel no drafts in the house. Our tenants also are happy with their heating bills and no drafts.

Can you overdo it? I suppose you can on maybe newer houses but we have not found that to be a problem yet. After we do our sealing you can go outside and turn on that big fan again and note considerably less air coming out of the house. With Someone in the house, have them raise a single window and you can feel the big blast returning.

I think an older house it's very, very hard to over seal it. Point in fact today it is relatively cold out. So there's a lot of pressure of cold air trying to push into the house. We don't feel it now so so that's nice. However a car obviously hit a skunk on the road near the house, and it didn't take that long to really smell it in the house, showing that that air is leaking in more and faster than one might would think.some engineering studies say the average house has a 3x3 window MORE THAN YOU NEED for good ventilation open 24x7,.,.Try heating your house with a 3X3 window open 24x7,..

Anyway I'm thinking of doing it again seeing if I can find a few more. I remember reading an engineering book that the average house has a complete air exchange 5 to 9 times and hour! The reason why you don't feel that it's 10 degrees from that outside air coming into your 72 house is that the mass in your house retains enough heat and will not drop it down very fast. But its still using a lot of energy to keep it up.
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  #2  
Old 12-05-2021, 04:01 AM
goldman goldman is offline
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I noticed a significant draft in the living room coming from the gas fireplace. Unless it was running, it was cold in here. So we went to work sealing up the drafts. It is much more comfortable in here now. Another place was the door from the garage into the kitchen. The door had weather stripping but there was a draft always coming in. I stood in the garage and took a good look at that door. When it was installed someone over tightened the screws on one side just enough to pull the jam away from the door ever so slightly. I fixed that and replaced the weather stripping. Voila, no draft. I can’t believe this house has been here 24 years and no one has thought to remedy the situation. Our first winter in here. As my Dad would have said “plug them pneumonia holes”. The rest of its tight as can be, got new windows and exterior doors, etc.

Last edited by goldman; 12-05-2021 at 04:06 AM.
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Old 12-05-2021, 08:50 PM
reddog reddog is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by holliswuzamember View Post
okay, I think I did a pretty good job of air sealing my house. We do this to all of our apartments as tenants move out and it has really helped with heating bills both on the apartments and my house.

We use a number of things,.. an infrared camera, and a blower door are the two best things. Actually we seldom use a blower door anymore but put a high-capacity fan in one window set back about a foot and 1/2..Blowing out on the first floor. Closing everything up including (temporarily and label the on/off switch to remember to clear them before they are switched back on) each stacks for the furnace and hot water. We then turn on the fan and if you stand outside, you feel the huge amount of air rushing out that you have to heat. There is a lot of pressure for cold air to push in and that air is coming in just as fast on a very cold day.

Then you can go inside and use a moist hand /the infrared camera, or a piece of smoky incense and find any leaks. At first some of them are pretty big. We usually close all the interior doors and pop one open at a time to find which are the leakiest rooms. Then we spend time for the worst ones first.

Does it make a difference? Yeah sure does ,..we spend less on heating bills then we used to. Also on those very windy days we feel no drafts in the house. Our tenants also are happy with their heating bills and no drafts.

Can you overdo it? I suppose you can on maybe newer houses but we have not found that to be a problem yet. After we do our sealing you can go outside and turn on that big fan again and note considerably less air coming out of the house. With Someone in the house, have them raise a single window and you can feel the big blast returning.

I think an older house it's very, very hard to over seal it. Point in fact today it is relatively cold out. So there's a lot of pressure of cold air trying to push into the house. We don't feel it now so so that's nice. However a car obviously hit a skunk on the road near the house, and it didn't take that long to really smell it in the house, showing that that air is leaking in more and faster than one might would think.some engineering studies say the average house has a 3x3 window MORE THAN YOU NEED for good ventilation open 24x7,.,.Try heating your house with a 3X3 window open 24x7,..

Anyway I'm thinking of doing it again seeing if I can find a few more. I remember reading an engineering book that the average house has a complete air exchange 5 to 9 times and hour! The reason why you don't feel that it's 10 degrees from that outside air coming into your 72 house is that the mass in your house retains enough heat and will not drop it down very fast. But its still using a lot of energy to keep it up.
Air sealing is a good thing, but for every action, there is a equal reaction. You can have a house that everything is functioning in and air seal it and now the dryer will backdraft the furnace, or the range vent will backdraft the water heater. You shouldnt address air sealing without addressing mechanical ventilation. Back when we were doing research for the NAHB, we used to get really, really anal about air tighness. I think our lowest ever was like .23 ACH/Hr @50pa.
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Old 12-06-2021, 11:08 AM
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KenLamain KenLamain is offline
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On really cold days (zero or less), we get a small sewer gas smell in our basement. I believe our boiler draws some air down the sewer vent pipe. Putting fresh air into the boiler room helps but we still get that real faint smell. Also in our basement bathroom the shower is never used. We need to be sure the trap is not dry. We run the shower now and then to keep the trap full.
Having everything sealed up helps on most days but no way to keep all the cold air out.
Ken
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  #5  
Old 12-06-2021, 12:41 PM
REW REW is offline
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Note:

Any time that a home is sealed very tightly - i.e. with Tyvek, triple paned windows and everything else tight - as is required to today's building codes in cold weather climates, there is also a requirement in most of these areas to also install a mechanical air exchanger

The air exchanger draws in outside air and passes it over a coil that pulls energy from air that is being expelled from the home at the same time to reclaim that heat energy that is leaving the home through the mechanical air exchanger.

In these locals that have such a requirement, the home will not be approved for occupancy, until it does have the mechanical air exchanger installed.

For example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qpus9d09Ni8
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  #6  
Old 12-07-2021, 10:02 AM
holliswuzamember
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Right Red dog and others,.IF you can get your house that tight you need to be aware of having enough outside air to feed your furnace or hot water heater. Not usually a problem in older homes but it could be esp in newer construction. Early in the season before the furnace comes on we have one of the few dollar gizmos that fit on the dryer vent that you can flip to have the dryer air vent inside rather than blow outside, Helps a bit with the heat and the very dry air you get in the winter.

However if you run a stove vent you might get some back draft of exhaust air,..not good, (This is not a FIX,),.but make sure you have a good up to date CO detector ,.(.they have a limited life),...and a smoke detector in your furnace area,.have them tested regularly,..but have the exhaust draft it tested/checked out that it doesn't do that ,..but until then IF you suspect you are not getting a good exhaust. "For now" until you do get it checked,..you can do a small crack of a window until you do find out,..


Your furnace guy should be able to check this out (be sure to run the stove exhaust and the dryer if you don't use the summer winter switch. Be safe.
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Old 12-07-2021, 11:07 AM
REW REW is offline
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Hollis, Virtually every fuel burning furnace - no matter if it is natural gas, propane or fuel oil should have outside air directed to the furnace to supply fresh combustion air.

My previous furnace had a 4 inch vent entering the furnace room and dumped the cold air on the furnace room floor.

To form a trap, some folks take the end of the outside air vent and put the end of the hose into an empty 5 gallon bucket with the end of the hose a few inches off the bottom of the bucket. This effectively forms an air trap. If the furnace is not burning, low pressure in the area of the furnace is not generated and the 5 gallon bucket and its air trap will inhibit outside air from coming into the home. But, if the furnace turns on and needs combustion air, the air pressure will drop and the furnace will begin to draw air from outside through the air trap at the bottom of the bucket and use it for combustion.

When my new furnace was installed a couple of years ago, the installer used the former fresh air hole through the side of the house for the pvc furnace exhaust pipe. I wanted the installer to have at least 4 feet between the furnace exhaust pipe and the furnace fresh air intake. So, he drilled in a new hole through the side of the house and routed a new combustion insulated air duct into the furnace room. Then, he did a clever thing to form an air trap. He simply took some of the extra length in the fiberglass insulated flexible vent duct and formed it into a U bend. Then, he used a large plastic tie to go around the U bend and hold the bend in place. The U bend effectively formed a J trap for the air. This simple U at the end of the furnace combustion air duct formed an air trap which inhibited outside cold air from dumping into the furnace room, unless the furnace was on, asking for fresh combustion air. Perfect. Simple, effective, and no cold floor in the furnace room any more.

Note:
Really not a very good idea to take gas dryer exhaust vent and direct it back into the house.
1. The exhaust air may contain some left over combustion by products that can cause health issues.

2. Any lint from the drying process that normally gets dumped outside is now being dumped back into the house.

Note:
Many years ago, I took this bad advice and dumped gas dryer exhaust air back into the home. After a month, I redirected it back outside. We were having both breathing problems from the air, and the laundry room was constantly filled with lint. Yes, I know that some folks recommended tying a worn out nylon stocking or panty hose over the end of the dryer vent, but that only worked to a point and one still had the issue with the gas burned exhaust by products that everyone in the house was breathing. Bad idea.

Best wishes
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Old 12-07-2021, 03:01 PM
holliswuzamember
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Yes REW you are very correct about not venting a GAS dryer back into the house. Its been a while since I had a gas dryer,..only electric ones and that vent thing has a screen that fits over the outlet,..along with the built in screen that is in every dryer, it traps most of the lint ,..so much so we really don't see it in the cellar where the dryer is,.now, maybe there are tiny bits that we don't notice AND esp if you are drying synthetic fiber stuff,... that can be very bad,..I hate pushing all that heat outside and the ultra dry air you get in the winter,..but might have to rethink the wisdom of doing this,..
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Old 12-08-2021, 10:27 AM
mk cant log in
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Most heat loss in a house is due to the transfer thru the glass windows and the walls.

Small air leaks are not a big issue, big leaks, sure, they should be sealed. A house needs to breathe otherwise you'll end up with excess moisture and odors accumulating inside. If it doesn't breathe you'll start to get moisture condensation building up resulting in mildew and you don't want a house that's so tight you can smell a fart a day later.

A buddy is a custom builder, 2,000 -5,000 sq.ft. homes, and because of the new door blower tests required, his houses are so tight that his customers complain because they have to open a window to get the fireplace to draft, otherwise the house will fill with smoke.
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Old 12-08-2021, 11:10 AM
Yellowfin123 Yellowfin123 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mk cant log in View Post
Most heat loss in a house is due to the transfer thru the glass windows and the walls.

Small air leaks are not a big issue, big leaks, sure, they should be sealed. A house needs to breathe otherwise you'll end up with excess moisture and odors accumulating inside. If it doesn't breathe you'll start to get moisture condensation building up resulting in mildew and you don't want a house that's so tight you can smell a fart a day later.

A buddy is a custom builder, 2,000 -5,000 sq.ft. homes, and because of the new door blower tests required, his houses are so tight that his customers complain because they have to open a window to get the fireplace to draft, otherwise the house will fill with smoke.
all new homes are tight but it sounds like your buddys brick mason might no know what he'a doing, you don't draw air from inside the home to feed the fire, it comes from the outside.. at least for the last 30 years
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