What Structural Issues in your Home are Impacting your Comfort

Are you comfortable in your home during extreme weather? You deserve to be. The structure of your home- how well it keeps out air leaks, how well you are insulated from the outdoor extremes of temperature and how well your nooks are protected d from solar radiation dictate the fundamental challenge. And the issues are often complex with a history behind them. We are not interested in generalities here or averages. You need a sense of what is wrong and what can be done about it.

We are discussing the structural issues here. Your HVAC is the other contributor to your condition. We discuss possible defects in your mechanical systems here,

Let Look at Structural Issues

Maybe your home allows too much air infiltration

Air leaks in your home are a serious problem. Conditioned air leaking out costs you money. Infiltrating humid hot air can make your home unhealthy. You home doesn’t have to feel drafty to leak air. Improving insulation levels does nothing to prevent air leaks. Remodeling can have a hug impact on air leak issues. Add-ons are notorious for being uncomfortable. Air leaks get built in through remodeling. Check those links out.

Just how big a problem are air leaks?

And make sure you understand the relationship between unhealthy air and mold and mildew formation and humidity problems.

Here is a discussion of air infiltration and issues related to air leaks.

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How well insulated is your home?

Cut up roofing and attic spaces create obstructions and  design difficulties which are hard to insulate. Framing members can leave you with too many thermal bridges.  We talk about thermal bridging issues below. But all kinds of issues, structural and air leakage which we discuss here too, can exacerbate the issues with insulation.

You just might want to plan an expedition into your attic? It is full of useful information ast to why your energy bills are as high as they are… or why your home might be uncomfortable. There are several things to discover on this trip, so I suggest you check out this discussion on an attic venture.

Depending on the type of insulation between ceiling joists, and the complexity of the ceiling and roof support framing, you might have a variety of gaps. Fiberglass insulation batts here are particularly susceptible to poor placement. Loose fill is a bit better but the ceiling portions make creating a good air tight ceiling problematical. We talk about air leaks, air infiltration on this page.

Here is our general discussion on Insulation levels in your home.

This is also a great time to discuss your ceiling access. It leaks air, It has no insulation. It can impact your comfort. It can help tip the balance to too hot OR too cold.

And Lastly, it is important to understand the short circuit principle and how it impacts your overall insulation level in your walls and ceiling and how this overall insulation rating is impacted by windows and doors and framing.

This is critical when you contemplate replacing windows. You need all the facts you can muster, to separate out the level of BS perpetrated about windows. Do not invest in windows to save energy until you evaluate these critical bits of information here. 

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Have Leaks and Water Damage Impacted your Insulation?

We cover issues with leaks and water penetration through the weather barrier elsewhere, but we bring it up here, because wet walls will wet insulation and wet insulation no longer insulates.

You might have issues with wet insulation caused by leaking through the weather shell. Damp insulation does not keep the hot out or the cold out, it just grows mold and rots the studs and plates and sills out. Cut up roofing can create this kind of problem- also issues with water coming in around and through defects in the walls.

I put this note here because it is a possibility, but it is not something you can test on your own- unless you have peeling wallpaper or peeling paint or mildew growth in a pattern on a wall section. This kind of situation needs attention soon and your professional auditor can help you identify this. Thermography would show a wet pattern around a window or along a ceiling. We talk more about leaking issues and solving them here.

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Has the home been remodeled?

Remodeling is intended to make the home more beautiful- more useful- and give you more space. This is the happy news, In reality, all kinds of things can happen here because you are altering what is there- attaching to what  is there and things happen.  Maybe construction is busy and  subs are busy with builders, so finding the right talent for a your remodel job can be tough.

Quite often, budget plays a big deal in the remodel. You might be really cost conscious too. There is only so much fat in a building budget. Probably no fat. Want to be skinnier than no fat? It can and is often done. We discuss the perils and pitfalls of remodeling here.

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Do you have a problem with your existing windows?

This needs to be put here, because there is a great deal of money in replacing windows- it is probably a billion dollar economy in America. There are many really good reasons to replace windows. There are also a great many windows replaced for bogus reasons. You need to know. You need to find out before you replace them. We discuss the issues around replacing windows here.

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Are your issues related to a bonus room?

Was something done to compromise yo9ur comfort?  This relates to the same perils as remodeling but from a different perspective.   We talk about bonus rooms and add-ons here.  Whatever you like to call them.

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Is your home design causing you a solar gain that is impacting your comfort?

Maybe, you have a window placed in an east or west window, and you are taking in solar gain. This website speaks specifically for homes in North Texas and we get a lot of sun in north Texas. We look at sun orientation here. In the early morning and in the afternoon, that high sun and noonday is not aimed right in a west facing window. This kind of problem can double team you with the thermal bridging issues discussed on this page. And you have windows to look out of, not cover up with curtains. There are solutions for a window allowing solar gain and you can start looking here. And pulling the curtains is not a real solution the radiation is pouring in and heating the living space with convection currents  even though you have managed to cut off the direct radiation on your skin.

Make sure you see the notes on windows. Too many people start thinking about window replacement without considering the up and down sides. There are many easy and effective solutions to limiting solar gain but a great deal of BS flies about here propelled by the large fortunes innocent victims pay for unnecessary window replacement.

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Does your home have issues with thermal bridging?

We get thermal bridging where too much wood connects the outside cladding to the interior of the house. Cut up roof lines, popular in North Texas can create wall section transitions that create wood intense transitions.

Thermal Bridging at Wall Window Intersect

Thermal Bridging at corners with windows can create a hotspot in your wall. Your body can feel the radiation and be uncomfortable even with the room temperature supposedly cool. This effect can exacerbate the issue you think you feel with your window and solar gain. Windows get blamed when the whole wall can be hot.

Window framing is also a common place where thermal bridging can be an issue. These kinds of issues are more intense in upstairs areas because you might be sitting closer to the radiating body which a thermal bridge creates. We talk about radiation and how energy moves from outdoors to under your skin here.

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How did your home get in this condition?

Every home has its own story. Site selection can impact sun and drainage issues. Home construction has been improving and the new green issues are seeing big improvements in the basic structures and mechanical designs of homes. Older homes can have some really fascinating issues created to resolve structural obsolescence over the years.

There are a few good service contractors and many pretty poor ones, but even the best have a tendency to see the world through their perspective. So trust but verify and ask questions until you understand. More thoughts on Contractor thinking.

Who can you turn to for help?

We talk about the types of services you can get from an energy auditor here. You might want to talk to an experienced home inspector. Home inspector talents go beyond the conventional role of home inspector before a home sale. The professional you would want to call would relate to your underlying issue which you need answers for. Are you worried about a leak or are you chasing down a comfort issue…

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Any questions, any comments? Feel free to add them below.