2020 Boise Idaho Real Estate Blog
its been awhile but here is the latest_ leaky house oh My!!!! Main The Durable Green Home
we got a call the other day from a gentleman in the valley that had a fear that his house was very leaky. This house was new, within the last year, and a very nice home. we tested the home and found out the infiltration rate was over three times what we would consider allowable!!!! why???

the first time I was on the site I could not figure out the reason, the doors and windows had not been properly sealed at the insulation stage, that was evident through the leakage around the units during the blower door test ( house pressurization ). The home also had considerable leakage thorough the many small can lights installed, some plumbing, electrical, the standard things we find, but where was all the air going?????

well I could not sleep because I just could not justify the amount of leakage, so I hate to charge a fee when I don't feel I found the root. of course a person can not be expected to know or solve every issue, but i felt we had missed something. So I called Eric Elliot of Vision Consulting to help me retest the building-sometimes having a second set of eyes is the key. Sure enough when we walked in the home he happened to catch a glimpse of something through a gap in the wood tongue and groove ceiling. come to find out there was no Sheetrock installed on the ceiling, just tongue and groove wood!! AAUUGGGHHHH!! like installing cheese cloth on the ceiling, IT LEAKS EVERYWHERE!! Well now what? over half the home has vaulted ceiling with no access! we made the recommendation to condition the attic in the flat ceiling areas, but what do you do about the vault? I did not even think code would allow this for fire, but I was wrong evidently, just goes to show you that you can build a beautiful home, but if you miss the details it can go horribly wrong. I hope we can solve this for the homeowner, but it will be expensive. good reason to build with a third party who understands energy efficiency and thermal envelopes. Hope this helps-go green!

Posted by Tad Duby at 10/15/2008 12:21:00 AM
Comments (10)
Re:its been awhile but here is the latest_ leaky house oh My!!!!
Tad, Im curious what insulation was used in this house? What type of insulation could have been used to eliminate this problem?

Bond Campbell
Posted by on 10/14/2008 8:00 PM
Re:its been awhile but here is the latest_ leaky house oh My!!!!
That hurts. Was the builder trying to cut corners or is he/she really not a builder?

Any advice on how to avoid similarly issues? For example should a rater be hired early on as a partner to the builder?

Question- Does the builder have any respnsibility to make it right? Was it in the bluepints and overlooked?
Posted by on 10/15/2008 6:09 AM
Re:its been awhile but here is the latest_ leaky house oh My!!!!
When we move to Licensed Builders, maybe they could sue the builder for not knowing how to build. Sue
Posted by on 10/15/2008 7:14 AM
Re:its been awhile but here is the latest_ leaky house oh My!!!!
You should take a look and see if your sprayable foam could alleviate the problem without pulling the whole ceiling down.
Posted by on 10/15/2008 7:16 AM
Re:its been awhile but here is the latest_ leaky house oh My!!!!
Yes spray foam before the vaulted ceiling went up would have been great, still should have sheetrocked the ceiling before installing tongue and goove celing boards. Now that the boards are up and the vault is inaccessable the problem is hard to solve. A person would definately not want to spray foam on the attic side of the boards ( it would leak through and ruin the ceiling ) so conditioning that attic in areas that are accessable would be great. The problem is not neccessaryily the insulation, if the air sealing and thermal boundary would have been complete at the ceiling level the home would really be fine. I also want to point out that the issue is not that this is a bad builder or unlicensed, this particular builder builds custom homes and has for many years, this is a typical mistake that no builder thinks about until they have had their homes tested with a blower door or consulted with an energy profesional. Another great reason to hire a HERS rater, or building science profesional when building whether you have built for many years or just want a new or remodeled home. We see mistakes like this every day both in new construction and remodels from building profesionals that you would think understand building. Asthetics and performance don't mean the same thing!
Posted by on 10/15/2008 11:23 AM
Re:its been awhile but here is the latest_ leaky house oh My!!!!
Hey Tad,
I think your original post is just an extreme example of air leakage and how it occurs. But what is unique about this scenario is how well it paints a visual picture for someone who isn't a professional of conditions that occur in all homes. With or without drywall there is going to be leakage because there are so many penetrations through the air barrier when the drywall is relied upon as the air-barrier, count the penetrations through the drywall in any home - can lights- regular fixtures- outlets- smoke detectors- cold air returns- Etc. Etc.) all of those penetrations create leakage . The DOE estimates that 50% of the energy lost in residential homes is lost through air leakage and air infiltration. Thats what makes the blower door test so valid. More latter.......

Bond Campbell
Posted by on 10/15/2008 4:03 PM
Re:its been awhile but here is the latest_ leaky house oh My!!!!
True, but I have tested regular insulated homes that paid attention to the details that are as tight as any other home we have tested foam or no foam. foam takes the variables out (usually) and is easier to create thermal boundaries than other insualtions, but it is not to understood that the others don't work. my favorite and proven method is foam on all problem areas ( which can be the attic ) and regualr insulation in the walls and other areas where i have not seen tested or proven results from the benefit of foam ( such as wall cavities. attentiuon to detail and understanding ( which you pointed out ) is the key to a great energy efficient home. Also in building tight homes, remember there are things to consider-ventilation, negative pressure and make up air to name a few. buildings are complex and I don't think anyone has them completely figured out, but we are trying. great comments.
Posted by on 10/15/2008 4:28 PM
Re:its been awhile but here is the latest_ leaky house oh My!!!!
"Build It Tight and Ventilate It Right"
Tad- I think you have as much credibility as anyone I know and you have certainly seen many more blower door tests than I have. I will also say that you have played a role in my awareness of "The Details" as you mentioned before. When you say that you have seen regular insulated homes that were as tight as foam homes I don't question that is true either. That being said- I do believe that for me, and my product, to get me to where I want to go in terms of airtight ventilated right homes, I am going to use the only insulation on the market that is truly air impermeable. Closed Cell Sprayfoam

Bond Campbell
Posted by on 10/15/2008 10:06 PM
Re:its been awhile but here is the latest_ leaky house oh My!!!!
What about code? Does there not have to be drywall at least for fire between the ceiling and attic/ roof?
Posted by on 10/16/2008 1:21 PM
Re:its been awhile but here is the latest_ leaky house oh My!!!!
I would agree that his is a great way to go. there is a great article that was forwarded me from the buildingscience newsletter yesterday www.buildingscience.com that recomends a closed cell foam insulation method as one way to treat vented crawl spaces, there are other ways to treat them and not have problems but I would say that closed cell foam sprayed to underside of floor and joists is the best way to eliminate problems in the assembly. Everyone should read the article especially if you are building vented crawl spaces, sometimes we don't know what we don't see. The crawl space is an area that once finished ( or should I say covered up) is rarely looked at again. this is probably one of the most critical areas of building durrability that is missed ( window and door flashing would be a close tie) dealing with this area and not creating problems can be tricky and is the topic of much debate. I am definately not the expert just one of the students!
Posted by on 10/17/2008 7:39 AM
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