The 3 Worst Mistakes Home Builders and Contractors Make in Attics
There is an epidemic of people suffering in most of the 100 million homes across the U.S. Many of your customers are living in uncomfortable and unhealthy homes, and are wasting money trying to heat and cool them.
Even after you have installed higher efficiency, properly sized equipment in their homes, many of you are experiencing call backs from customers because they have rooms and entire homes that remain too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. The HVAC equipment is working, but the house itself is not!
Poor indoor air quality, made worse in many homes that have air handlers and leaky ducts in attics, is contributing to illnesses like asthma and allergies for families living in these homes. Homeowners are wasting money, and experiencing higher heating and cooling bills than they should. This epidemic of comfort and health issues is caused by THREE MAJOR MISTAKES MADE BY BUILDERS AND SOME CONTRACTORS.
1, Insulation is blown in or batts placed on attic floors without first air sealing.
When homeowners are too cold or too hot, they may call an insulation contractor to add or install insulation into their attics. Unfortunately, most of these contractors do not air seal the attic floor before adding or installing insulation.
Penetrations in the air and thermal boundary between the attic and the conditioned space are completely ignored! Pipe and wire penetrations, can lights, chimney chases, top plates, drop down stairs and other gaps and cracks in the attic floor are places that the air your customers paid to heat in winter can leak into the attic. Since the attic is ventilated, this air is lost to the outside.
Heat from superhot attics in the summer can migrate into the home, increasing the cooling load in living spaces. Unsealed attic floors lead to rooms and homes that are uncomfortable and difficult to heat in winter and cool in summer.
The air flowing through all these gaps and cracks deposits dirt and dust in fiberglass batts. Dirty insulation has a reduced ability to resist heat flow between the attic and conditioned areas in the home, increasing heating and cooling loads, and making people hot in summer and cold in wintertime. Heating and cooling systems must run longer to deliver comfort to the home, increasing fuel and electric bills and wasting peoples’ money.
Warm moist air leaking through these gaps and cracks into cold, winter attics condenses on the underside of roof decks, which can lead to mold. This contributes to unhealthy indoor air quality, leading to sick homeowners
2. Not Enough (or any) Insulation on Attic Floors
Attics that are ventilated are considered outdoor space, and are very cold in the winter and extremely hot in the summer. Most attics do not have enough insulation on the attic floor to resist the movement of heat through the insulation. Homebuilders and insulation contractors don’t add or install enough insulation to deliver adequate resistance to heat flow to and from the attic space and the living area. This makes the upstairs ceilings very hot, turning them to indoor radiant heaters during the summer. In winter, heated air rises to the top of the house, and conducts through the drywall ceiling and into the attic, making it more difficult to keep your customers warm and comfortable in wintertime.
3. Ducts in attics
Many homes have heating and cooling systems and ductwork in their attics. Ducts in attics are a major contributor to this epidemic.
In summer, attics can be 130˚ or hotter. Uninsulated or under-insulated ducts in attics act as reheating lines. The cold air homeowners paid to cool gains heat from the very hot attic as the air moves through the ducts to the areas of the home that need to be cooled! The opposite happens in winter. Ducts act as re-chilling lines. The air homeowners paid to heat loses that heat to cold attics as the air moves through poorly insulated duct systems to the conditioned parts of the home.
Duct systems are designed to produce and distribute a certain amount and temperature of air to heat and cool the home. Unfortunately, a large percentage of that air is lost along the way due to duct leakage. Up to 47% of the air your customers paid to heat or cool can be lost through holes, gaps and poor connections in ductwork. If there is an air handler in the attic, it can suck contaminates like mouse feces, mold spores and dust from the attic into the ducts. Contaminants are distributed right into the living areas, potentially causing and making it worse for allergy and asthma suffers. Placing ducts in attics is possibly the worst decision made by builders and contractors.
- The 3 Worst Mistakes Home Builders and Contractors Make in Attics - January 2, 2019
- Removing Constraints in Your Business - October 3, 2018
- How to Air Seal an Attic “Right and Tight” – Part 2 - August 3, 2018
Posted In: Building Performance
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