Surgery for Your Home

by Cody Farmer

Air Tight Construction Colorado

I watched a movie a while ago where the hero had multiple bullet wounds and knife wounds but he makes it home to patch himself up. He pulls out all the bullets, dumps alcohol on it, and then puts a bandage on it. Sounds logical, right? Of course not. I’m being facetious. That doesn’t sound logical at all. In reality, if someone has a bunch of bullet wounds, he/she is probably not going to be able to repair all of that internal damage with just alcohol and a bandaid.

If you’ve done a blower door test as we suggested in last week’s blog, you’ve probably discovered just how leaky your home is. Maybe your home has been shot full of holes for a while. You’ve done your best to patch it and take good care of it, but, like the example above, your home may have serious trauma. It may need more than a few bandaids – it may need professional help.

 

When we help teams apply Passive House principles, we use a 7 step process. The good news is that with an existing structure we can still apply all of the 7 steps in order to reduce the environmental footprint, save money, extend the life of the building, and drastically improve your indoor air quality to asthma and allergy friendly levels. All the bullet holes – I mean air leaks – are healed at that time with a 100-year seal. The least expensive and most important steps are 1, 3, and 5:

Step 1: Energy Modeling. The Baseline Model calculates envelope performance, accounting for R-value transmission losses, solar gains and losses, ventilation losses and heat recovery options, and internal heat gains and losses. Our Baseline Analysis uses the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) software or WUFI Passive to digitally re-build a set of plans. We can then model all gains and losses, sizing the heating and cooling loads throughout an airtight building envelope.

Once the Baseline Model is created, it becomes very easy to provide heating load calculations, as well as assist in bridge-free design options, air-tightness details, and material quantifications.   

Building Optimization can then commence, and we analyze alternatives for the building envelope.  We can compare various window manufacturers to different insulation and wall assemblies for your site and structure in order to hit certain LEED, Passive House or other energy targets. This exercise is also imperative on finding the relationship of Energy Savings and COST as it relates to ANY building.

Step 3: Defined Air-Barrier & Materials. We do this using 50 year + elastomeric connections like Tescon Vana Tapes, airtight membranes like Intello intelligent membrane, and other vapor open ProClima materials to properly and safely seal out air while allowing any trapped moisture to vape-out. The areas that usually need specialty detailing and sealants include windows, doors, shear wall seams, and attic/cellar entrances. We will, then, test the envelope with a blower door.

Step 5: Fresh Air Systems. This is the most important appliance – more than just a bandaid bathroom fan that prematurely turns off, Zehnder turns the bad into glad, 24 hours a day. So even when you can’t reach the fan switch, you’re safe from the odor. It’s completely silent, too! Once your home has been evaluated, a plan is in place, and it’s sealed up as tight as we can get it, now we need to install a system that will allow fresh filtered air to “breathe” in and out much as lungs and mouth do for the human body.

Imagine if our bodies were forced to breathe out of numerous parts of our body – that would cause mass confusion and improper air flow! Much like the way our body is designed, we want to create and see to it that homes (and apartment complexes, and office buildings, etc) are breathing in and out through one allowable source. This makes the home far more energy efficient, moisture managed, and even reduces some of the heating and cooling that the equipment has to perform.

This system is called an Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) unit.

Air Tight Construction Colorado

Check out the newest member of the family: Comfoair Q

Visit this page to see all 7 steps and click here to see more specifics on how we do it. And then see this page to tell us all about your home/building so that we can get to work on finding specific solutions for you!