Are you ready to take your Northbrook, Illinois, home to the next level of comfort and efficiency? Have your hands been itching to tackle another DIY home improvement project? Sealing your home’s thermal envelope is a great project to take on one weekend or during a day off. By identifying and sealing leaks in your home’s thermal envelope, you’ll keep conditioned air where it belongs and increase HVAC efficiency and home comfort.
What is a Thermal Envelope?
Before tackling this project, let’s review some specifics regarding thermal envelopes. A thermal envelope refers to what separates the air inside your home from the air outside. It also includes the separation between different rooms in your home. Specifically, a thermal envelope includes anything intended to contain air, like insulation, walls, windows, the floor, and doors leading to the outdoors.
Breaches in a thermal envelope develop because of neglect, environmental conditions, or the effects of time and can reduce air conditioning efficiency and even indoor air quality. Conditioned air from your home will leak outside while unwanted air leaks in, putting extra strain on your HVAC system. This causes strain on your system which reduces its lifespan, decreases its efficiency, and increases your utility costs.
Seal the Attic
Out of all the potential breaches in a thermal envelope, the attic, may present the most significant violations. Air easily escapes up into the attic through floorboards, as well as gaps around plumbing pipes, recessed lighting cans, electric outlet boxes, and even the entry hatch itself. You can identify smaller leaks by looking for dust around plumbing pipes, lighting, and outlets. Dust and other pollutants can easily enter your home through air leaks.
Start sealing your attic’s envelope by rolling out blanket insulation along the floor. You may not be able to easily identify leaks along the floor, but it’s a fair bet that air is seeping through the floorboards. For gaps around plumbing pipes and outlet boxes, spray some expanding foam. Our technicians can provide information about the most effective ways to insulate your home.
Don’t spray foam around recessed lighting cans. If you’re concerned about a leak around recessed lighting, consider installing tighter, insulated recessed lighting cans. Once you’ve sealed all the leaks within the attic, place weatherstripping along the entry hatch, to completely seal off any air leaks.
Seal Around Windows
You’re also likely to find leaks around windows. Over time, cracks form in the caulk compromising the seal in the window’s frame. Some fresh caulk and weatherstripping should do the job. If the leak is significant enough, you may want to consider scraping off the old caulk before adding the new layer. Older windows may not close or seal properly and may need to be completely replaced if you’re serious about sealing your envelope.
Leaks may also form around skylights, but these breaches are more difficult to seal since they involve raising shingles and placing roofing cement around the skylight. As with any home improvement project, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Leaks can come from places that you wouldn’t expect. For a thorough solution, it’s best to schedule a professional home energy audit.
Seal Around Doors
Gaps between a door and doorframe do more than let cool air out and warm air in, they also allow dirt, dust, and insects to invade your home, further decreasing AC efficiency and indoor air quality. Some weatherstripping along the doorframe will quickly seal this leak. Sliding doors may need care similar to the windows. Check if caulking is needed between the frame of the sliding door and the home.
Sealing your home’s thermal envelope is as simple as tackling these three DIY projects. By the end of a weekend or a day off, you’ll be experiencing greater comfort and efficiency in your home — not to mention making great strides to reduce energy waste. For professional assistance with increasing the efficiency of your heating and cooling system, give Roberts Heating & Air Conditioning a call at 847-562-5292.
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