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Common Source of Air Leaks in the Building Envelope

Common Source of Air Leaks in the Building Envelope

As the real estate market bounces back from the pandemic-related recession, individuals may purchase, renovate, and design new and existing properties. Homeowners can maximize the efficiency levels of their houses by improving their insulation features. Various construction methods help residents eliminate common sources of air leaks.

When people improve their home envelope, they can reduce utility costs and increase temperature control productivity. Before evaluating the restoration techniques, it’s vital to assess the typical leaks in a building’s envelope.

Leakage Paths

All buildings have outward and inward air leak paths that affect the efficiency of a home. Standard divisions in materials, doors, windows, pipes and ducts allow outside air indoors. Attic doors, vents, chimneys and lights help conditioned air escape.

The effects of inefficient building envelopes depend on the size and quantity of air leaks. Older homes without proper sealing have significantly higher counts of energy loss. Other factors also affect a building’s efficiency outside of its structural features.

Air Pressure Differentiations

The pressure differentiation between outdoor and indoor conditions also contributes to air leaking. When the variation increases, a mechanical force pushes air through material divisions, creating leaks and decreasing energy efficiency. This can lead to severe destruction during high wind occurrences from tropical storms, hurricanes or tornadoes.

Builders can use pressure measurement calculations, predicting its effects on a building envelope. They can utilize the information to design an effective seal for homes in vulnerable leak regions.

 Common Source of Air Leaks in the Building Envelope

Improving Insulation

Construction professionals can alter the energy efficiency of previously built homes or new development by decreasing their susceptibility to air loss. Caulking and sealing air leaks is a cost-effective way to improve a building envelope. The process requires leak identification and latex or silicone-based caulk.

Builders can apply the caulk by cleaning the leak region before application and placing the sealant as close to the material break as possible. Then professionals can push the caulk into the area with a tool, decreasing potential damage. Construction workers can also improve a building envelope by installing double pane windows.

Energy Star regulates many double pane windows, ensuring the effectiveness of their seals. When professionals add energy-efficient windows to a building, they decrease leaks by limiting pressure differentiation effects. They can also seal the borders of windows and baseboards with strips, further reducing conditioned air loss.

When examining air loss regions, many residents forget to acknowledge the garage. Though temperature control in the area rarely affects a homeowner’s comfort, inadequate insulation features can increase utility costs. Builders can enhance the efficiency of a garage door by adding a layer of fiberglass within, reducing conditioned air loss.

Benefits of an Efficient Envelope

When construction professionals optimize a home’s building envelope, they create various residential advantages. Decreasing indoor air loss increases the functionality of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. It promotes climate control efficiency, increasing a homeowner’s comfort and reducing mold development.  

Sealing air leaks also improves a building’s cost efficiency. Decreasing the energy use of temperature control systems significantly lowers utility prices. A homeowner can save up to 20% on their energy costs from the HVAC system alone after improving the building envelope.

When buildings use less energy, they also generate fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Eliminating air leaks can significantly shrink a structure’s carbon footprint. When builders enhance the sustainability of a home, they also increase its market value, helping homeowners gain a higher return on their investment.

Insulating and sealing a home additionally keeps out pests. Reducing pest interference can enhance the longevity of a structure. It also keeps out pollen and dust, increasing a resident’s comfort and well-being.

The air leak reduction methods also reduce outdoor noise pollution, helping individuals sleep better at night and increasing a property’s buyer appeal. Some professionals are unaware of the effects a building envelope has on a house. When they raise their awareness, they can construct more energy-efficient homes.

Design Applications

The design of a building affects its efficiency and air loss. Professionals can use modern building techniques, like modular construction, to increase the seal of a home. They can also evaluate the environmental influences surrounding a property, preparing for significant pressure differentiations.

Properties require varying design and construction techniques. Homes in hurricane zones may need different building envelope features than inland structures. When builders explore the pressure variations and common leakage paths, they can optimize a home’s energy efficiency.


Evelyn Long is the editor-in-chief of Renovated. Her work focuses on interior and architectural design and has been published by Build Magazine, the National Association of REALTORS and other online publications.