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Attic Insulation: Common Heat Loss Area

Updated on December 23, 2012
This thermal image shows the energy loss at the edge of the wall.  Even though the insulation amount is to code, there is a definitive issue with energy loss at the perimeter of the building.
This thermal image shows the energy loss at the edge of the wall. Even though the insulation amount is to code, there is a definitive issue with energy loss at the perimeter of the building. | Source

Most types of insulation are not an air sealer. While the two go hand in hand, air sealing and insulation are two completely different things and it is very apparent in the thermal image above. This shows an attic in the summer months losing a significant amount of energy along the perimeter of the house which causes ice damming in the winter time allowing water to enter under the shingles. This is a common issue called edge effect caused from a lack of air sealing along the perimeter of a building during the construction process, and/or a lack of insulation along the perimeter. In this case, there is substantial air leakage along the perimeter which can easily be air sealed with closed cell spray foam insulation. The insulation is spray applied to the top plate and wrapped up onto the bottom of the roof sheathing to encapsulate the proper vent or sheathing block that allows for proper ventilation of the attic. It is very important not to impede the ventilation when applying the spray foam as this will have a negative consequence of stagnant attic air and possible moisture build up in the attic. The spray foam is also wrapped down onto the drywall to completely seal the edge and prevent substantial convection and air movement along the perimeter. Performing this function will lessen the likelihood of ice damming from heat loss and condensation from convection from cooled conditioned air meeting hot unconditioned air.

These types of issues are very common and hard to detect without proper equipment such as the thermal imaging camera used in this example. There are many professional services that offer professional thermal imaging services. Home inspectors, preventative maintenance professionals, and energy auditors are just a few people that can detect issues like this and save you thousands in energy costs and moisture damage.

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