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Seeking Advice on Drafty/cold house

We have a 1949 brick rambler with a ‘lookout’ basement. In August, we changed our roof and noticed that there were no soffit vents, so the roofer installed 16 6×16 soffit vents in addition to the ridge vent. We also re-installed R-38 blown cellulose insullation in the attic (in November). After all of this, it seems that the house is much colder than it's ever been. I feel drafts all along the walls and also on the floors (tile in the bathroom and hardwoods throughout the main floor). It also seems much colder in the basement. Our plan was to have some cellulose blown into the walls in the coming months but so far with the temperatures around (36 – 40) in December, I feel like we have to turn up the furnace just to maintain some warmth. Could this be caused by the installed soffit vents? I am pretty sure there is hardly any insulation in our walls since it is over 60 yrs old, but could the drafts be running through the vents, through the walls and into the house?

Any help would be appreciated….

Re: Seeking Advice on Drafty/cold house

To a point it may be possible adding the attic venting is creating more drafts.
Basically , the attic now has more negative pressure which is good for venting the attic space .
Unfortunately it also now shows all the weak points of air leakage in your home.

Chances are there are points of air infiltration from the inside living space into the attic which need to be sealed. Simply adding blown in insulation doesn't air seal the penetrations from things like the plumbing vent stack , electrical boxes and duct work ( if equipped ).

With an increased negative pressure in the attic --- air from the living space is drawn up through leaks into the attic --- meanwhile this also draws in air from outside from other leaks in walls , electrical boxes , windows , doors , etc..
Air sealing leaky areas is one of the most important steps for making the home comfortable.

More than likely your home was always cold ( relatively speaking ) since it isn't well insulated ( well at least the walls now ) however, you probably didn't feel the drafts as much before. Cold drafts can make you feel more uncomfortable because of moving air across your body tends to cool your body temperature.

Adding insulation to the walls is a definate advantage for keeping the home comfortable but , you must also find and seal the source of air leaks to complete the picture.

Re: Seeking Advice on Drafty/cold house

thank you for this info. I did some research on the web and there is a energy efficiency auditor/consultant. Do you think these consultations are useful? Or would it be just as good asking an insulation company salesperson to help determine the air leaks that need to be fixed?

I appreciate your input. thanks again.

Re: Seeking Advice on Drafty/cold house

Having an independant consultant evaluate the home is definately a good thing. They will give you an unbiased evaluation as to what and where needs to be addressed. This consultant should perform at least two tests -- blower door and an Infra-red camers imaging.
The blower door test will depressurize the home to determine how leaky the home is and will highlight those air leaks. The Infra-red image will show where all the points of heat loss/gain are occuring so as to properly insulate.

Then have the insulation contractor address those areas identified by the consulatant.

In many cases the consulatant will do a before and after visit --- this way you will see the improvement and it also checks the workmanship of the insulation contractor.

Re: Seeking Advice on Drafty/cold house

Hi canuk,
I just received a quote for an auditor and it was a lot. For 2000 sq ft home they quoted "$750-$850 for our full auditing and Combustion Appliance Zone (CAZ) testing with energy modeling and report. Above 2000 SF, prices increase $100 for every 500 SF of living area." This seems high. Is this average? We live in Seattle. I'm not sure if I can pay this just for an audit.

do you have any link to find other auditors in the area so I can compare?

Thank you.

Re: Seeking Advice on Drafty/cold house

Sorry , I'm in Canada and can't assit with finding anyone for you down there.
The prices around here vary between $500-$700 for an audit.

It's your choice --- you can forego the auit and simply work with an insulation contractor to perform the proper work.

Re: Seeking Advice on Drafty/cold house

Don't hire an energy consultant, rather put your money to work where it counts: insulation, weatherstripping, foam, etc.

Besides getting help from an insulation contractor, you can get valuable information from you power company, for free. Then follow up with their recommendations.

Re: Seeking Advice on Drafty/cold house

Yup... venting the previously sealed attic now means that all penetrations to the attic floor need to be sealed. To make matters worse... you think you have R38? With even a small amount of air movement from leaks, the insulation value of fiberglass and loose fill drops fast. You've increased you "stack effect". The leaks to the attic are balanced by air leaks in the basement. Eliminate one and the other goes away. Leaks to the upper part of the house are the most critical.

IN my house I attribute my almost complete lack of stack effect by having a sealed attic space insulated with open cell foam. I can set the downstairs furnace to 70F and the upstairs will remain 65F. There no air exchange because leaks are minimal... especially since I added new storm windows.

FYI - in summer you'll also find that your upstairs in now more hot and humid. Stack effect reverses in summer because the indoors in cooler than the outdoors.

Personally, I think you were better off leaving things sealed up and spray foaming the roof deck. Now, the only thing you can do is locate every ceiling penetration and seal it up good with cans of spray foam. Then find every air leak downstairs and seal them up with caulk or weather stripping.

Re: Seeking Advice on Drafty/cold house

thank you all for your help. I contacted the power company and they subsidize the inspections, so it will cost only $95! I appreciate the support!

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