Best Practice - Window And Door Insulation

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC 3380-000723

How often have we complained about cold air near and around windows and doors?  It could be that upon installation, the Best Practice - window and door insulation was not employed.

On a new construction, pre-drywall inspection I ran across something that I really like to see.  Proper insulation around the windows and doors!

This is how insulation around windows and doors has been done for a long time.

If properly done, it is, in a word, OK.

However, there is a trick to it.

Fiberglass insulation is intended to provide a thermal barrier by trapping air.

If it is crammed in there too tightly, it is ineffective because there is no room for air to be trapped and heat escapes.  Hence you feel cold!

If it is crammed in there too loosely, it is ineffective because there is so much room for air that heat escapes.  Hence you feel cold!

In my experience, many insulators are NOT careful.

So one window may feel fine, another not.  It pays not to be haphazard.

Running across this door I saw something that I consider to be a

 Best Practice

 

The gap between this installed door and the framing is filled with a minimally expansive foam.

It is an open-celled poly-foam, a very good product.

Why is it Best Practice?

Because it absolutely fills the gap preventing any air flow. 

Once air flow is controlled, the thermal movement of air is inhibited almost to zero.

I SAW THAT ALL THE DOORS AND WINDOWS WERE DONE THE SAME WAY.

This space will eventually be covered with drywall and some wood molding.

Altogether, the foam and subsequent products, a good R-value, resistance value of Btu control, is provided.

It was very good to see.

All gaps from indoors to outdoors - such as corners, where the sill plate meets the floor, the pre-fab studded sections of wall that were placed together - ALL SUCH GAPS - were also sealed with a caulk that seals air movement completely.

All that, accompanied with the properly-applied plastic thermal wrap on the outside of the house will contribute to great comfort of those inside, summer and winter.

All this was done in preparation for the insulation to be installed.  I will swing by to check that as well, when done.

My recommendation:  best practices are just that.  Often they precede and exceed code recommendations and implementation.  They represent current, and sometimes forward, thinking.  You should always look for Best Practices when you look at any home, but particularly new construction.  If you aren't familiar with what the best practices are, ask your home inspector!

 

 

 

Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


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Rainer
238,290
Anne M. Costello
Weidel Realtors - Yardley, PA

Jay: great explanation about good, better, best insulation practices. It's great to see builders using forward thnking business practices.

Oct 11, 2011 10:32 PM #1
Rainmaker
1,811,047
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Anne - the poly-foam around windows and doors has been used for a while, but not by many builders around here.  It's good to see the employment here.

Oct 11, 2011 10:34 PM #2
Rainmaker
127,957
Michael Thornton
RadnorLake Video - Nashville, TN
Nashville Area - Photography & Videography

Good morning, Jay. Most of the time I see batting packed in tighter than Dick's hat band. Oh well, can we say undalay???

Oct 11, 2011 11:04 PM #3
Rainmaker
1,811,047
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Um, we say it's too tight Michael?   That's the equivalent of putting plywood and storing boxes all over the attic space, and then later complaining how hot the upper level is.

Oct 11, 2011 11:07 PM #4
Rainmaker
3,054,553
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

 Insulation will be on the top of every list as the leaves fall and winds blow here...good to know what works best...and consistently is the key to being cozy and keeping the cold outside...

Oct 11, 2011 11:51 PM #5
Ambassador
2,587,770
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

Jay, I've often suspected that the builders of our home didn't do a great job insulating our windows/doors.  Nothing I can see for sure though, but eventually our window will get replaced and it can be addressed then.

Oct 12, 2011 12:05 AM #6
Rainmaker
1,811,047
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

S&D - and the technique is so very important.  No matter what the insulation, the installation is critical.

Bliz - you CAN see it with a thermal camera!  That's how I check windows and doors on the one-year inspection.

Oct 12, 2011 12:16 AM #7
Rainmaker
233,419
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

It's funny how we have our regional preferences of how things should be done.  I'd call fiberglass insulation around a window or door 'dumb'... although it's a lot less mess than foam.

Oct 12, 2011 12:59 AM #8
Rainmaker
1,811,047
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

But very traditional Reubs!  But that's all there was.  And how many people know the proper amount to shove in there?  If done right, it is OK, as I say.  But not great!

This is exactly the kind of thing I was saying in my History Mystery post.  When foam first came out it was super expansive.  It had minimal opportunity for application.  Then they figured it out to make it with different expansion grades so it could be used in small spaces like around windows and doors.  Now it is a great product for exactly that application. 

A history mystery solved!

Oct 12, 2011 01:04 AM #9
Rainmaker
579,577
Chris Smith
Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage - New Tecumseth, ON
South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta

Jay, great explanation of why it is not recommended to pack in fiberglass insulation, and to suggest a better medium for gap insulation.

Oct 12, 2011 03:01 AM #10
Ambassador
1,323,660
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jay, to add to your reply to Reuben the first stuff that came out was super "expansive" and pushed jambs to the point that windows and doors would not operate properly.  The newer less expansive stuff is certainly the way to go.

Oct 12, 2011 06:00 AM #11
Ambassador
1,323,660
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

I would also add that even packed fiberglass is better than the wood on both sides :)

Oct 12, 2011 06:02 AM #12
Rainer
284,418
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

Jay -- Now you have me thinking, did the company that replaced our windows a few years ago put in foam, fiberglass or just leave what was there?  Hmm.

Oct 12, 2011 07:18 AM #13
Rainmaker
1,811,047
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

That's the idea Chris, best practice!

Charlie - for sure, and thanks.  I have seen door thresh holds so bowed upward with expansive foam the door could not close!  It took them a while to figure out the minimally-expansive stuff.  And wood is fairly conductive - that is especially evident with thermal imaging!

Steven - hard to know!  Why don't you cut a test hole and find out!  And send me a picture!

Oct 12, 2011 10:25 AM #14
Rainmaker
2,687,575
Lisa Von Domek
Lisa Von Domek Team - Dallas, TX
....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless!

Good morning Jay,

Great blog, so nice to see a job well done...there are a lot of great, professional contractors out there!

Oct 13, 2011 12:10 AM #15
Rainmaker
1,811,047
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

There are and here and there I see some really great stuff Lisa.  I am glad to have a forum where I can display such work and teach proper techniques.

Oct 13, 2011 12:19 AM #16
Rainer
171,024
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

Nice post Jay. As a new carpenter back in the 70s, I was taught to do it the way shown in your first example. You had to fill the space and leave no gaps but not pack it tight.

There were guy who rammed it in there like they were chinking a boat seam. If you do that it's too dense and actually becomes a thermal bridge. Dense mass transmits or conducts thermal energy.

The new minimally expanding foams do a perfect job so look for that product use.

Oct 13, 2011 04:11 AM #17
Rainer
171,024
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

I like your closing line;

My recommendation:  best practices are just that.  Often they precede and exceed code recommendations and implementation.  They represent current, and sometimes forward, thinking.  You should always look for Best Practices when you look at any home, but particularly new construction.  If you aren't familiar with what the best practices are, ask your home inspector!

I may use it or a version of it for my recommendations.

Oct 13, 2011 04:13 AM #18
Rainmaker
1,811,047
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Robert - thanks for both compliments!  Agreed - too tighto, no worko.  That's perfect Spanish.

Oct 13, 2011 07:37 AM #19
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Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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