Air Conditioning in Arlington: Air Sealing

Air Conditioning in Arlington: Air Sealing

Air sealing your Arlington home is an important part of the whole-house approach to energy efficiency, no matter what time of year. The goal is to keep the conditioned air inside and Mother Nature’s hot or cold air outside.

Sealing your home is also important in North Texas because you want to:

  • keep mold and mildew at bay
  • improve your defense against allergens
  • keep invading pests out
  • and protect your home’s structural integrity, which can be compromised by mold, mildew, pests, and a poorly sealed home in the summer.

In this post we look at the value of air sealing your Arlington home, especially in the spring and summer. In a future post we’ll look at prepping the house for the winter months.

The information is provided to give homeowners an understanding of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) terms and subjects when discussing repair, service, equipment upgrades, and energy efficiency with an Arlington, TX air conditioning contractor.

Wasted Energy

Estimates vary, but homes burn through an amazing 21 percent of the energy used in the United States. Much of that energy is used to cool or heat homes as well as backyards and front porches due to leaks and holes in the “building envelope.”

If homeowners do serious work sealing cracks and holes to their home’s structure it’s possible they could save up to $600 in annual energy costs and possibly reduce wear and tear on their equipment, cutting down on the number of service or repair visits to the home by an Arlington, TX air conditioning contractor.

Simply sealing air leaks, for example, can provide greater savings than replacing windows because the cost of materials is much, much lower than buying and installing new windows and doors.

If you are unsure of your home’s building envelope, call your Arlington, TX air conditioning service and repair contractor — or an energy specialist — to schedule an assessment or complete, detailed audit.

While a service call is not as thorough as a complete energy audit, a simple visual inspection by a trained technician can provide a baseline understanding of your home’s building envelope and any issues at hand.

Air Flow Dynamics

In the winter, warm air wants out.

In the summer, hot, muggy air wants in.

It’s a silent, invisible exodus through leaky doors, windows, and poorly sealed interior and exterior walls, to name a few culprits. You may think a slight leak is no big deal but exponentially, when added up throughout the home 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the extreme hot or cold months, these losses can become significant and contribute to higher monthly energy bills.

Before you call an Arlington, TX air conditioning service and repair contractor or energy auditor, it’s good to have an understanding of air flow in the home and what it means.

Winter Airflow Dynamics

In the winter homes are impacted by the chimney (or stack) effect.

Cold air infiltrates the home through leaks and cracks in the foundation and walls. Basements are the worst for leaks, but these are not common in Arlington, Fort Worth, and Dallas.

The cold air rises and works its way up into the attic through structural defects, holes in your ceiling, recessed lighting, leaky duct work, the furnace flue, the plumbing stack, a poorly insulated attic floor, or improperly sealed areas in general.

In some homes, even those without chimneys, the chimney effect is so pronounced it’s like leaving the front door open during the winter.

The chimney effect is the most common air leakage contributor, but there are three other culprits you should be aware of — wind pressure, chimney/exhaust pressure, and duct pressure.

  • Wind pressure. Wind blowing against an exterior wall can push cold air into your home on the prevailing side and create negative pressure on the leeward side. The wind pushes air through holes and cracks in the windward wall, then exits through the leeward wall. The result is a cold and drafty home.
  • Chimney/exhaust pressure. This is created by active ventilation such as exhaust fans and clothes dryers. These fans can be so efficient at removing air that “replacement” air is drawn through holes or cracks in exterior walls or even down your chimney, creating a potentially dangerous condition known as backdrafting.
  • Duct pressure. In homes with forced air heating systems, the furnace blows heated air into the living areas and is resupplied with air through a system of return ducts. If the return ducts system is leaky to the extent that the flow of air back to the furnace is restricted, it may double or triple air leakage through exterior walls compared to not using the furnace at all. It is essential to seal as many sources of duct leaks and possible to keep energy costs low.

If you are uncertain about your home’s duct work, have an Arlington, TX air conditioning contractor provide a quick inspection during a semi-annual system checkup. Make sure you find out if any of the technician are duct specialists. Like a formal energy audit, duct specialists also conduct a variety of tests to find leaks and inefficiencies.

Summer Airflow Dynamics

In an air conditioned house in warm weather, the process is reversed.

Cool air is denser than warm air, so it sinks as warm air rises. As you cool the air in your house, it gradually sinks through air leaks and is replaced by the warm air from the attic, which is pulled in through air leaks in the thermal envelope separating the attic from the top floor. This is why it’s often hotter in a two-story home than in a single-story dwelling.

Another major air leak culprit in an air conditioned house is the duct system that distributes cooled air. Duct leaks are often hard to find, which is why it’s best to have an Arlington, TX service contractor or an energy or ductwork specialist conduct a visual inspection or a full-fledged audit to pinpoint and address leaky ducts. This could save you up to 25 percent on air conditioning costs.

And don’t forget there can be substantial air leakage around windows and doors, along baseboards, through electrical outlets.

Benefits of Summer Sealing

Sealing your home with an eye toward summer air flow dynamics . . .

  • increases occupant comfort
  • saves energy (and money)
  • improves indoor air quality, since moisture carries biological contaminants such as mold
  • improves indoor air quality by keeping harmful chemicals from building materials like particle boards and glues at bay
  • keeps bugs, pests, and assorted other creatures out of the home, something homeowners don’t have to worry about as much in the winter
  • prevents moisture infiltration, which can compromise insulation, building decomposition, wood warping, metal decomposition, and mold.