Look What's Escaping Through Your Attic Entry

By
Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

Just about every home has an entry way into the attic. It can be a small scuttle often tucked away inside a closet or a pull down stair way in the hall. Some homes even have a full stairway into the attic (a personal favorite of mine). What these entries all have in common is a covering over the opening. Be it a door, a piece of wood or sheetrock, the openings are by some means closed off from the cold, unconditioned attic. But most often they are not insulated or sealed allowing heat to easily escape into the attic.

The infrared image at right is a typical un-insulated pull down attic stairway. The opening is roughly eight square feet of heat escaping area.

It is important to understand that heat is attracted to cold. The heat you pay so much for will seek out cold spots like this pull down stairway and leave your home through your attic. Contributing further is that heat rises and the opening is on the ceiling.

The second image is of an attic scuttle. This opening is about half the size of the pull down stairway, about four square feet. But none the less it is permits heat to readily escape to the attic.

 You may not be aware of some other large heat robbing culprits in your home. The third image is of a whole house fan opening. The fourth is a return vent for the air conditioning system.

The insulation was not reinstalled around the vent nor was the opening sealed as is evident from the cold perimeter.

Not all opening are in the ceiling. Some are in knee walls as shown in the last infrared image.

What can be done to fix these heat robbing thieves? There are some basic and relatively cheap and easy solutions.

 For the attic pull down stairs there are insulated covers available that fit right over the opening. Weather striping around the opening is also a good additional step to stop air flowing through the gaps and into the attic.

If the stairway is an odd size a foam insulation box can be constructed to fit the opening. Or the foam board can be affixed directly to the wood sheathing on the attic side just under the fold up stairs. Polyisocyanurate is a high performance foam board insulation that would be ideal for these projects. It has an R value of 7 to 8 per inch and can be easily cut to size.

Foam board can also be used in a similar manner for all the other openings previously described. It can be used by either fastening  it directly to the entry way cover or constructing a box to fit over the opening.  

For walk up attics with full sized doors an exterior grade door properly weathered striped will do the job or again foam board affixed onto the door.

With the price of heating our homes becoming so expensive, these low priced fixes can pay for themselves in little time. But the best method of saving energy is to have an energy audit performed by an energy saving professional. The energy inspector can help you understand where your home is most energy deficient. Provide you with a plan on the most cost effective  improvements and show the hidden energy robbers.

James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

To find out more about our high tech energy services click on the links below:

Learn more about our Infrared Thermal Imaging & Diagnostics services. Learn more about our energy audits, the Home Energy Tune uP®.

Posted by

James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

 ASHI Certified Inspector

To find out more about our other high tech services we offer in Connecticut click on the links below:

Learn more about our Infrared Thermal Imaging & Diagnostics services.

Serving the Connecticut Counties of Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven, Southern Litchfield and Western New London.

close

This entry hasn't been re-blogged:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
Topic:
ActiveRain Community
Location:
Connecticut New Haven County
Groups:
ECO ALL-STARS & GREENIES
Home Inspections Q & A
Connecticut Club
ASHI
Connecticut Professionals
Tags:
thermal imaging
connecticut certified home energy efficiency audits
ct home energy infrared inspections

Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Spam prevention
Show All Comments
Rainmaker
284,711
Gene Allen
Fathom Realty - Cary, NC
Realty Consultant for Cary Real Estate
Just love that device.  Once business picks up a bit I am having an audit done on the house.
Feb 19, 2008 08:15 AM #1
Rainer
120,131
Joseph Lang
Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection - Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Home Inspector, Southern California
Good post James.  But how do you stop air escaping from the whole house fan without limiting the air intake?  Are there covers that fit over it for the winter?  (I guess I just answered my own question).
Feb 19, 2008 09:42 AM #2
Rainer
9,605
Jim Ellis
Ellis Home Inspection Services - Pensacola, FL
I like the posts James. One of these days soon, I hope to get, understand and use a thermal camera.
Feb 19, 2008 10:06 AM #3
Rainmaker
683,909
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Gene, I love it too! It is a great tool which literally gives me a new view on things.

Joseph, Yes you did. For any odd sized opening you simply make a foam insulation box to fit over the hole.

Jim, It's a big investment, but it will give your business another service to offer. The key to understanding the device is to get trained. It isn't as simple as it looks, but it ain't rocket sciene either.

Feb 19, 2008 12:31 PM #4
Rainmaker
201,806
Stephanie Edwards-Musa
thredUP.com - The Woodlands, TX
knitwit at thred UP

Hi James,  we actually have a program here that is mandated to be in existence and the company will come out, weatherstrip doors, caulk windows, all sorts of neat stuff...and one of the things they do IS insulate the attic door. 

Even better, it is a FREE service.  Attic doors lose tons of air...  Awesome post!!

Feb 19, 2008 12:31 PM #5
Rainmaker
683,909
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Hello Stephanie,

Thanks, glad you liked it.

There is some similar free programs from the utility companies up here. What they do is use a blower door to locate leaks and seal them up. They also will change out your light bulbs. It helps and it is free.

Feb 19, 2008 12:41 PM #6
Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Show All Comments

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?

Rainmaker
683,909

James Quarello

Connecticut Home Inspector
Ask me a question
*
*
*
*
Spam prevention