Why Is Sealing and Insulation Important in the Summer Months?

sealing and insulationSummer heat in Texas often sends residents running to the cool of air conditioning for comfort. Running air conditioning in an inefficient home, however, can result in large utility bills and reduced indoor air comfort. Improving your home’s sealing and insulation can decrease utility costs and provide optimal comfort.

Sealing and insulation may be done by homeowners using the following steps:

Locate Air Leaks

The first step to improve your home’s sealing and insulation is to identify areas of air leakage. Some leaks will be easy to identify because you can feel the air moving. Other leaks may be found with a visual inspection. Take care to investigate the areas around common sources of air leaks:

  • Crawl spaces
  • Sill plates
  • Top plates
  • Duct registers throughout the home
  • Attic hatches
  • Recessed lighting
  • Plumbing stack vents
  • Dropped soffit
  • Vent fans, commonly seen in kitchens and bathrooms
  • Dryer vents
  • Walls that are missing plaster
  • Fireplace dampers
  • Outdoor water spigots
  • Moldings around doors, ceilings and baseboards
  • Electrical plates including outlets and light switches

Sealing Air Leaks

The second step when updating your home’s sealing and insulation is to fill all openings with the appropriate material. The correct material to use to seal you home’s air leaks depends on the size and location of the leak.

  • Weatherstripping – For use on movable parts of doors and windows. Weatherstripping comes in a variety of types, so make sure you’re using the right product for your particular situation. Use door sweeps to seal open areas at the bottom of doors.
  • Caulk – For leaks that are less than a quarter inch wide, caulk is an ideal sealant. Caulk is relatively inexpensive and is flexible enough to be used in even the smallest of gaps. Caulk is available in a number of applications including to be used around fireplaces. Be sure to use caulk that is rated for special applications.
  • Expanding Foam Sealant – Great for use in larger cracks and openings that do not receive direct sunlight or moisture. Typically seen in small canisters, expanding foam sealant is safe for the environment.
  • Backer Rod – Sold in large coils, backer rod is a flexible foam material that can be used in tandem with caulk and expanding foam sealant to close leaks.
  • Rigid Foam Insulation – Rigid foam insulation can be used to fill large gaps such as those commonly found around plumbing chassis and around attic hatch covers.
  • Fiberglass Insulation – Fiberglass can be effective in sealing large leaks. However, because fiberglass is permeable by air, it’s necessary to wrap fiberglass insulation in plastic before being used for this purpose. Plastic may not be used in areas with the potential for high heat.

Adding Insulation

The final step for improving your home’s sealing and insulation is to add insulation to the home. In the vast majority of cases, insulation is installed at the time of construction. If your home does not have insulation, contact an expert to blow cellulose or fiberglass into the walls. If the home already has insulation, you can take action to improve its efficiency.

  • Attic – if the attic is unfinished, adding insulation is relatively easily. Simply add additional insulation between the ceiling beams. Either fiberglass or cellulose insulation is suitable for this purpose and will greatly slow down heat transfer into and out of the attic. If you use fiberglass insulation, take the time to fully read and understand the installation instructions, as installing the insulation incorrectly can significantly reduce its effectiveness.
  • Basement – If your basement is finished, or if you intend to finish the basement, you should contact an HVAC professional to discuss your options. For unfinished basements, avoid using materials that may be damaged by moisture. Additionally, avoid using an interior vapor barrier as that can prevent the basement from drying and result in mold and mildew. To insulate basements, use rigid foam insulation against the basement walls. Leave an uninsulated width to be used for termite inspection in the future.

For additional information on how sealing and insulation can improve your home’s efficiency contact WA Air Conditioning today. WA Air Conditioning and our team of expert HVAC technicians proudly serve Trinity, Huntsville, Waterwood, Sebastopol, Lovelady, Groveton and the surrounding areas.

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August 12, 2014 8:40 pm