U.S. EPA Air infiltration poster

4 thoughts on “airInfiltration

  1. An energy audit was done for me recently, things like sealing air leaks were recommended. I did seal, with spray foam. I changed several windows to 2 glaze argon gas etc…I also had the upper floors redone, they were buckling, and in some instances feet would get scratched by nails stick out. Now, I notice so much dust. I had even had my ducts cleaned after the construction, and a new filter ( life time model ) placed in the furnace. Why so much dust? Most of it seems to look like lint, my basement is unfinished…and I still hang to dry my stuff in the basement. Is this a connection?

    • Dusty conditions are usually caused by one of two things:
      – a leaky or disconnected dryer vent
      – leaky or disconnected ductwork

      When you say that you hang your stuff to dry in the basement, does this mean you don’t use the dryer at all? Keep in mind that all that moisture from the clothes has to go somewhere, and if it’s all going into your home, you’re increasing the risk of mold due to high humidity.

      As for the dust, the energy auditor could have picked up specific leaks in the ducts depending upon what was done. Or, if your construction was done after the audit, it’s possible that the contractors messed up the ducts, leading to these issues.
      With all diagnostics, try to think back to what changed between the time when you didn’t have problems and when you did.

      Another trick is to feel around the air supply and return grills around the house on a windy day with your heating/air conditioning turned OFF. You shouldn’t feel any active air movement. There may be a little cold air moving through them due to natural air motion, but it shouldn’t vary with the wind. If you feel more air when it’s windy, then you have leaks in your duct system. Make note of which grills have the biggest drafts and have someone check the connections to those.

      Overall though, if the dust problem is that serious, you should have your auditor come in and track down the duct leaks. Using their test equipment, they should be able to zero right in on where the leaks are so you can have them sealed.

      This relates to your other question about vermiculite. If you have vermiculite and the ducts run through it, then leaky ducts could be distributing that throughout your home. So this is something to take very seriously.

      • Ted,all this is a lot to swallow! I’m the one with a health issue in this house, and I am the ONLY one that seems to have the interest to improve and energize the home environment. I have a sense that the ductwork could have developed a leak when the floor on the second floor was replaced. They had even put new plywood, because the old was so dip laden. This would mean taking up the floors wouldn’t it? The other thing, is that when I had the ducts cleaned, a new enviro filter placed…it is supposed to be these new ones that you clean, and wash and insert back into the furnace. What I noticed is that it didn’t fit as well as the replaceable ones. What kind of companies check the duct return etc…what is the name I should look under?

        With respect to drying the clothes, I have never had a dryer. The humidifer on the furnace busted, and we found the house dry anyway. so we would use the portable humidifers on the different floors. My hub, is guitar crazy, so he always tends to his stuff like babies..humidity control etc. There is no mold, other than the drywall right above the shower, and that is because one of my brats, like to have long hot showers, without the vent turned on!

        With respect to the vermiculite travelling through the house…it is possible, the electricians, when they rewired the house, went through the hole in the attic ceiling and fished the wire through there. After, I noticed that the laundry adjunct to this hole, had some of the vermiculite on the washer, and I went and vaccumed like mad. I should say…I have this wretched brain cancer crap…so it has been start and stop with all of my home fixing and improving.

        thank you for such a FAST, helpful reply. I will let you know what happens.

      • Wow, sounds like a tough situation.
        For testing, many energy auditors have a device called a duct blaster that they can use to help with duct diagnostics. Initially, no floor removal is necessary, just pressure testing the ducts. This will determine IF there is a problem in the ducts. Then they can try to track down where the problem lies.
        I’m personally not a great fan of the washable filters. I’d prefer a high quality pleated filter. But usually, dust problems aren’t related to the filter, they’re related to sucking dust in after the filters or other air leaks between the house and dusty spaces like attics.

        Ok on the dryer (or lack). If your home is dry in winter, often this is an indication of a leaky home or leaky ducts. So if there’s duct problems, fixing them will make your home more comfortable and energy efficient. I’ve seen ducts so bad that they cause people’s heating bills to double and are unhealthy to boot. Bad stuff.

        So check with a good energy auditor in your area. Describe your problems and see what they say about how they’d diagnose the issues. Your health is important so you’ll want to find someone really good. You might check on Angie’s List or ask around. A lot of people are claiming to be energy auditors these days but finding a good diagnostician can be challenging. You have to ask pointed questions and turn on your B.S. detector.

        Good luck!

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