2020 Boise Idaho Real Estate Blog
leaky windows--OH MY!! Main The Durable Green Home
we got a call from a window manufacturer the other day to test a clients home that was complaining of leaky windows. the owner of the window company had tried for over a year to please the customer, resealed windows, showed them test results (dp ratings-lower the number the better) on and on. Here is why they called us...

so the owner called me and asked if we could determine window leakage. Yes we can, but why not hire us to test and inspect the home and do some visual tests to show the owner just how and where the home leaks? my experience  tells me it  is  not usually the windows that are the problem. the owner said yes and we were on. Heres what happened. We walked  through the different test and inspections we were doing on the home, and then we fired up the blower door (home leakage test) and got out a smoke  tube. The windows were tight, but I feel a draft said the homeowner, so we moved the smoke  down to the separation of the trim or  sill from the drywall ( the little  caulk joint that cracks out) and right away the smoke blew straight out from the wall ( the home is depressurized-pulling outside air  in) so the contractor had never sealed around the window-probably only the industry standard of stuffing fiberglass insulation around the window (fiberglass does not  stop  air leakage- it just filters it) and the result is outside air is coming in around the window. Then we moved to the electrical outlets-WOW said the homeowner- I never realized how  much air is coming through the outlet. This is the same results with a 20 mile an hour wind blowing, and they are located in a windy area. So all and all we showed the home owner that the windows were actually very good, it was the air sealing of the home behind the drywall that was causing allot of the draft. we also located several areas that water is getting into the walls and will result in costly repairs. We resolved the complaint with the windows, now to help the homeowner fix his  house. I am amazed myself when I see the results of a blower door test on some homes, performance testing can really show you where the problem areas of your home  building process is. as Tony Zornik says- you only get  what you inspect, not what you expect.

for  a good  reference on sealing your home, go to www.energystar.gov under home  improvement, they have a great  guide  to help you thought the process. Remember this is 25-45% of  your utility bill every month. SEAL the HOLES-as  the  old  saying goes-Where you Born in a Barn? simple  steps to  make  big improvements.Save  money,  save resources, save the planet. its  all good.

Posted by Tad Duby at 2/1/2008 3:32:00 AM
Comments (4)
Re:leaky windows--OH MY!!
What are your thoughts on Tyvek style wraps on a home? To me, if the builder caulks around the outlets, doors and windows, there shouldn't be any airflow for the "wrap" to stop. If the builder doesn't caulk these places, I see the need for the extra wrap. What is your thought on this and do you know anywhere I can go to other than the sites they are trying to sell their product?
Posted by on 1/31/2008 10:21 PM
Re:leaky windows--OH MY!!
Great post Tad- Here you have exposed the most basic and important element of the building process- the integrity of the building envelope. For all of our discussions about energy consumption, compact flourescent light bulbs, energy star appliances, loe-e glass windows, solar panels, high efficiency furnace, ETC. It all pales in comparison to the value of a well sealed building envelope.
Ok Mr. Building contractor How are you going give me a well sealed building envelope?
1. Start with a good design.
2. Use good quality building materials to build a Plumb, Level, and Square structure.
3. Use advanced framing techniques to remove up to 30% of the wood framing members used in traditional style framing.
4. Properly installed and flashed windows. (Housewrap is a must explain later.
5. Install plumbing, electrical, and mechanical with subcontractors who understand and respect the builders requirements for a well sealed envelope.

6. Drum roll please -------- The most important and critical element (and most under-rated by the way) A properly installed, polyurethane closed cell spray foam insulation. Air seal, vapor seal, r-value, and structural integrity second to none. Use around doors and windows as well.

Tad your gonna get your chance to test this system for me soon and we will bring our findings to this forum. I expect we will see phenomenal results.

Jim - To answer your question about the importance of housewrap. Housewrap does help to stop air infiltration( when installed properly) I say that because I frequently see it installed improperly. And your correct, with the system I spelled out previously air infiltration is virtually eliminated. But the more important role of a properly installed housewrap is that of a drainage plane. Eliminating Water intrusion is as important as stopping air infiltration and a well installed, good quality, housewrap will help with both. By the way I appreciate that you care about the integrity of the building envelope- another layer of quality control via the real estate professional, to help educate the buyers to look past the granite countertops, and travertine showers, to the value of a well sealed building envelope. -Bond Campbell
Posted by on 1/31/2008 11:16 PM
Re:leaky windows--OH MY!!
I believe that the building envelope is the often overlooked, most important part of the home. It was what determines how energy efficient, comfortable, and durable a home will be. There have been many ways talked about on this site and in other places around the valley on how to improve the building envelope. One way that I think has been mostly overlooked is ICF (Insulating Concrete Form) construction.
Properly installed (and that is the most important part) ICF walls can eliminate most of the air infiltration issues in one step as well as providing an extremely energy efficient home that will last for hundreds of years (walls are concrete, probably not going anywhere for a while). This is something that I recommend that people planning on building look into so they have at least explored all of their sustainable options.

-David Menzel
Posted by on 2/1/2008 9:54 AM
Re:leaky windows--OH MY!!
so some good comments, so TYVECK!!! the important reason to use this is to provide a drainage plane as Bond Cambell has reffered to. if you are counting on this for air leakage control you are fighting a losing battle. Give yourself some good training on a complete drainage plane-meaning if I put a hose on the wall-where woud the water go??? I recently had a builder comment on this and say well doesn't the osb do this NNNNOOOOO there are over 200 lnft of seams on a typical home- do you want to relly on this?? remember the cladding is the first barrier, not the drainage plane.
ICF?? well yes a very good way to build thermal mass into a structure, I really like this, but the air sealing is just as important, and you need to understand the critical points. Also the installation of windows is a little different, or possibly alot different depending on desing.
Just to bring up another point it is interesting i have not seen a window installed right in a basement opening yet, there are detailed ways to do this, but standard installation is incorrect. not that this pertains to ICF construction, but again make sure the details and installation procedure is correct.
Posted by on 2/1/2008 5:40 PM
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