Where to Look For Construction Flaws and Energy Waste

by Don Ames,  www.detectenergy.com

Construction flaws waste energy, reduce comfort, and encourage building deterioration. A little knowledge about construction methods can help you locate and correct these flaws. Let's face it, homes were not created equal, homes are the result of a hundred hands belonging to fifty different people that will never live in the house, but, never-the-less, have great influence on the final product and the final energy efficiency rating.

It's not only contractors that account for building flaws, but also the professionals with degrees hanging on office walls. The contractor that actually pulls the wires, hammers the nails, and sets the furnace has many opportunities to mess up a home. But the professional architect with the architectural design and the Engineer with the structural calculations can also sabotage the energy integrity of a home. Along the way, there is just too many opportunities for Construction Flaws that result in energy waste.

After the professionals and contractors are done providing their own personal energy flaws, the building materials take over and provide their own brand of energy waste.

All building materials have different thermal characteristics:

1.  Metals, like aluminium conduct heat rapidly.

2.  Insulation conducts heat slowly, like fiberglass and plastic foam.

3.  Wood, masonry, and plastic are medium rate conductors of heat.

Plain Box Home

The simplest homes to build are often the most energy efficient. They are just large six sided rectangular boxes. The building shell has six components - four walls, one ceiling, and one floor. In this type of square or rectangular construction, there are few things to go wrong.  The architect has a simpler job and so does the plumber, etc. When it comes to an energy audit, the auditor has a simpler time assessing a nice square box.

Each component of a home - walls, ceiling and floor - usually has two layers with a space in between the two layers. As an example, a wall has an exterior siding layer and an interior drywall layer with a space between the two. The ceiling has the flat ceiling of drywall and the roof with the shingles or metal. The space between the layers is usually reserved for insulation.

The building shell has seams and connections that include edges, corners, and openings that are thermal weak points within the home. These thermal weak points contain heat conductive materials, broken air barriers, leaky joints, open holes and missing insulation.

Penetrations through insulation and air barriers are major flaws concerning energy conservation. These penetrations are provided courtesy of the builder, electrician, plumber, and HVAC Contractors. Here again, the contractor is not planning on living in the home, only planning on getting their work done and moving on to the next home.

An irregular shaped home has additional corners, seams, and areas where the air barrier and insulation is not continuous. Irregular areas include bay windows, dormers, porches, pop outs, second story decks, recessed entrances, doors, and windows. Building shell irregularities can allow air leakage through the building shell and allow air convection currents within the building cavities.

Dormers Are Wasters

Some favorite home energy flaws:

It is in these areas where energy saving efforts should be focused.

1.  Shafts containing chimneys and pipes.

This is particularly a problem in two story homes. Too often the shaft or chimney chase is not sealed to the adjoining ceiling or floor. Penetrations are not sealed completely. Air can rise from the basement to the attic and back again.

2.  Roof Overhangs.

Roof overhangs can provide an irregularity in both the wall and the adjoining roof. Look for thermal barrier and air leakage problems here.

3.  Crawlspaces and basements that connect the home to the outdoors.

Rim joist construction can provide the irregularity that results in air leakage and thermal breaks.

4.  Suspended ceilings between floors and cabinet soffits.

These are irregular framing designs that are prone to leave unsealed connections between the indoor space and the attic. It takes a conscientious builder to address these problem areas during construction.

5.  Concentrations of plumbing pipes or electrical wires.

Get a number of plumbing pipes or electrical wires running through a wall in the same location and the contractor is liable to cut a much larger hole than really needed. Does the contractor return and air seal the hole? Probably not.

Chimney Chase

6.  Building cavities used as heating ducts.

It's faster and less expensive for the heating contractor to use a wall or floor joist space as a heating duct. Problem with this type of heating duct is the fact that the duct usually ends up in a place that leaks air to the great outdoors.

Recognizing construction methods allows you to concentrate energy saving retrofit's on areas of your home most likely to  contain building flaws that waste energy. So, if you live in a super cute home that is cut up like a tree house designed by Dr. Suess, there is a real good chance you are paying for your cutie with excessive energy waste.

This is the place for a trained and experience home energy auditor. A simple square box of a home may not offer the challenge required for the pro to keep inspired and sharp on the job. So, if your having a hard time keeping up with the power bill and you don't know a chase heating duct from a cabinet soffit, give your power company a call and ask them for the contact information on a home energy auditor.

Thank you for stopping by Detect Energy, please come back soon, but I won't leave the light on for you...

More from Don Ames and Detect Energy at www.detectenergy.com including the FREE eNewsletter, the Energy Spy Insider

Views: 243

Tags: auditor, conservation, construction, energy, flaws, savings, waste, weatherization

Comment

You need to be a member of Home Energy Pros Forum to add comments!

Join Home Energy Pros Forum

Forum Discussions

Efficiency of furnace

Started by Jignesh in General Forum. Last reply by Jim Hensen 12 hours ago. 5 Replies

2005 EPAct tax credit

Started by Mandy Leazenby in General Forum. Last reply by Sean Lintow Sr on Thursday. 3 Replies

Best brands for furnace

Started by Jignesh in General Forum on Tuesday. 0 Replies

ROCIS recommendations for Ducted Range Hoods

Started by Diane Chojnowski in General Forum. Last reply by Tony Baptist on Tuesday. 8 Replies

Latest Activity

Todd Abercrombie liked Barbara Smith's video
9 hours ago
Jim Hensen replied to Jignesh's discussion Efficiency of furnace
"Great question - what the efficiency rating means is one of the most common questions we we asked.…"
12 hours ago
Michael Schettine's blog post was featured

Framing production combined with air sealing

Building Tighter Homes with Gasketed FramingIf you follow our blog, you know that we talk quite a…See More
yesterday
Profile IconMichael E and Jason Dion joined Home Energy Pros Forum
yesterday
Jason Dion joined Sean Lintow Sr's group
Thumbnail

Best Practices (Residential)

Best Building, Retrofitting, or even Auditing Practices - what are they, what should change, what…See More
yesterday
Jason Dion joined Michael Stuart's group
Thumbnail

INFRARED THERMOGRAPHY USERS

This group is dedicated to knowledge sharing and discussion of infrared thermography for building…See More
yesterday
Jason Dion joined allen p tanner's group
Thumbnail

Energy Auditing Equipment for Sale, Trade or to Purchase

Discuss the pros and cons of the equipment you are interested in prior to purchase. Post equipment…See More
yesterday
Jason Dion joined Allison A. Bailes III's group
Thumbnail

HVAC

HVAC design, Manuals J, S, T, & D, Duct leakage, Air flow, ENERGY STAR new home requirements,…See More
yesterday
Jason Dion joined Bob Krell's group
Thumbnail

Healthy Indoors (IAQ)

The Healthy Indoors group is focused on indoor air quality (IAQ), mold, moisture control, radon,…See More
yesterday
Jason Dion joined Building Performance Institute's group
Thumbnail

Building Performance Institute (BPI)

BPI is the nation's premier standards development, quality assurance and credentialing organization…See More
yesterday
Jason Dion joined Diane Chojnowski's group
Thumbnail

Job Board

This group is for posting jobs related to all aspects of the home performance industry including…See More
yesterday
Brad Cook replied to Jignesh's discussion Efficiency of furnace
"NO combustion based heating system can ever be 100% efficient, according to the Second Law of…"
Thursday
Brian Robinson commented on Barbara Smith's video
Thumbnail

How to get top performance from your furnace, air conditioner or heat pump

"So glad you highlighted the importance of air sealing & insulating the home form the bottom to…"
Thursday
Brian Robinson replied to Jignesh's discussion Efficiency of furnace
"You also may also want to account for the distribution losses as you move the heat from the…"
Thursday
Michael Schettine posted a blog post

Framing production combined with air sealing

Building Tighter Homes with Gasketed FramingIf you follow our blog, you know that we talk quite a…See More
Thursday
David Butler replied to Jignesh's discussion Efficiency of furnace
"Adding to Sean's comment... The reason a 90%+ furnace uses a PVC flue (as opposed to metal) is…"
Thursday
Barbara Smith's video was featured

How to get top performance from your furnace, air conditioner or heat pump

Video produced as part of our Minnesota heating and cooling system study. Seventhwave
Thursday
DesignTech posted photos
Thursday
Sean Lintow Sr replied to Mandy Leazenby's discussion 2005 EPAct tax credit
"And there we go, it got a retroactive extension till 12.31.2017 now"
Thursday
Barbara Smith commented on Barbara Smith's video
Thumbnail

Building a Green Veterans network

"Thanks Hannah!  I corrected the link. Please try again."
Wednesday

Photos

  • Add Photos
  • View All

© 2018   Created by Home Performance Coalition (HPC)   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service