That may seem like a rude title to some, but it does describe what goes on in a home naturally. Air moves in and out of a home constantly. The movement of air is driven by mechanical devices such as fans or furnaces or naturally occurring phenomenon such as thermal convection.
Some air infiltration into the home is a good thing, but as Newton said for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So what comes in must push some thing out. You can't dispute physics.
What's undesirable is too much air infiltration. The air that makes its way into the home is unconditioned which then causes a more rapid cooling or warming of the interior. That of course triggers the heating or cooling system to operate more often and that means more money spent by the home owner to be comfortable.
The other side effect of excessive air infiltration is discomfort from drafts. Drafts are one of the most common complaints of home owners with regard to energy efficiency and over all comfort.
These two photos show what is in my experience extreme air ex-filtration into the attic of this home. Notice the dirt on the insulation around where the wires come through the wood framing in the first photo. In the second photo directly to right of where the pipe pops through the insulation a similar streak of dirt can be seen. Around the attic scuttle entry was many time worse.
I believe the reason for this much air being sucked into the attic was the unique design of the home. The home was a combination of old and new construction. The basement ceiling was un-insulated and a large part of one wall was an old wooden garage door. In the original living space above the exterior walls were not insulated while the new second floor was very well insulated.
So the upper floor retains heat extremely well while the lower areas cool fairly rapidly. All that warm second floor air is very attractive to the lower house cool air. The second floor air is pulling the lower house air up to the second floor and eventually into the attic through the holes in the ceiling.
Sealing the holes and gaps through out the house and then insulating the old walls and floors should alleviate this suction effect to the attic. Once done the home owners should see an appreciable savings in their utility bills.
The next time you hear someone say; "that house sucks," it may indeed be a correct observation.
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC
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