Pushing the Envelope

Written By:  Moment Palmer

Learn about the importance — and benefits — of Performance Point’s air sealing services, effective techniques, and superior products

WHAT IS AIR SEALING AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

In this context, air leakage is the unwanted infiltration and exfiltration of air through a home’s envelope. Roughly stated, the envelope is what separates indoors and outdoors. Knowing this you can now work to pinpoint the areas of a home where leakage can happen. From the foundation to the roof every crack and crevice can be a candidate for air leakage (Think: vents, ducts, exhaust and furnace fans, crawlspaces, attics, and small openings around/between doors and windows).

Air sealing is important because a leaky or drafty house will cost more to operate, be less comfortable, and may have worse indoor air quality than a well-sealed house.  Drafty homes often have higher indoor humidity in the summertime and lower humidity in the wintertime which leads to other problems resulting from expanding and contracting wood like cracks in wood trim, cupping/crowning hardwoods, and creaky floors.

Fortunately, there are plenty of solutions for reducing air leakage. Air sealing is one major way builders deal with air leakage. Spray foam insulation, Zip Systems, SIPs, AAC block, and ICFs are other solutions but it may be outside the cost constraints or other goals of the project. With the help and expertise of the professionals at Performance Point and our access to industry-leading technology, your project will be more air-tight resulting in the most comfortable and cost-efficient home to build and live in.

“Our methods and purpose are far more valuable to a home’s performance and the occupant’s comfort than a typical insulation contractor’s attempt,” Jeremy Price, Performance Point’s Regional Field Manager explains. “A contractor, such as Performance Point, with our scientific knowledge and experience of where, how, and why, will provide an air seal that is the most effective, most attractive, and with the least amount of waste.”

 

FEATURES AND BENEFITS OF AIR SEALING SERVICES

Energy contractors generally start by performing an energy inspection to assess problem areas that need to be addressed. Most home builders have a criterion to meet (that is usually dictated by state and local building codes) regarding the amount of air leakage that is permitted.

The general consensus is that the tighter the home is, the more energy-efficient and comfortable it will be. With a well air sealed home, it is important to have a dependable ventilation system to bring in fresh air for the occupants. ACH is how we scale airtightness. We consider a home “well air sealed” under 4 ACH. A good air sealing job will get you in the 4 ACH range, better in the 3 ACH range, while best is below 2 ACH.  Simply put, ACH is the number of times all the air in the house is exchanged while running the blower door at 50 Pascals. Below 2 ACH is possible with fiberglass insulation and advanced methods of air sealing, but it is uncommon to achieve this due to the complexity of trade timing and the many interconnected systems that interact with the air sealing systems.

Performance Point goes above the typical air seal service offered by others by assessing and focusing on the whole home.

As Jeremy explains, “When we are onsite to perform an air seal assessment for a builder, not only are we there to air seal the house to limit unwanted air infiltration, we are also able to observe and inspect the framing of the structure and all of the other mechanical components. This is beneficial because the early opportunity we have to call out deficiencies in the framing or duct system to a builder prior to insulation can save everyone from trouble down the road.”

In addition to energy and cost savings, air sealing also plays a huge role in Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), which is more essential than ever since we are spending a lot more time working and learning from home. “The importance of good Indoor Air Quality has risen in the mind of the American homeowner since COVID has made us acutely aware that what we breath can make us sick, and now we are breathing more air at home than ever,” says Sam Glaphin, Performance Point’s Founder and Owner. “This making us more aware of our heating and cooling energy consumption and comfort level at home, which has created a prime situation for manufacturers to come out with new products or polish up old products to fit our new awareness of IAQ and energy efficiency.”

 

PRODUCTS AND TECHNIQUES

Once an inspection is completed, Performance Point can make recommendations to address problem areas that need the most attention or even perform the air sealing service turnkey. Effective techniques and durable quality products go hand-in-hand in creating the optimal air and moisture sealing that increase a home’s energy efficiency and building performance.

“A very specific test (Blower Door Test) is used to test the home for how ‘airtight’ it is, and the results are interpreted in a metric called Air Exchanges per Hour (ACH), and depending on what that building code dictates — a passing grade could range anywhere from 3-7 air exchanges per hour — usually depends on what part of the country the home is being built in,” explains Vinny Savelli, Regional Sales Manager (for the Southeast territory) with TYTAN Professional, one of the vendor’s Performance Point partners with.

TYTAN makes a wide variety of polyurethane-based products including adhesives and air sealing foams. “There are numerous competitors out there who produce similar products, so we differentiate ourselves by providing some of the best technology, performance, and value on the market,” Savelli explains.

One of the most popular air sealing products TYTAN offers is single component aerosol polyurethane foams. These products are extremely effective as they provide a quick and easy way to seal off points where air can move through the envelope such as exterior penetrations around windows, doors, and plumbing fixtures.

Jeremy stresses that using the correct foam sealant makes all the difference during the application, and it ensures the effectiveness of one’s effort and material. “For instance, one would not do well to choose draft-stopping foam to seal windows, as this product expands significantly, and it may interfere with raising and lowering a window sash smoothly.” And while these foams are extremely effective, the application process is also just as important.

One of the premier products TYTAN has developed is an air sealing system called the TYTAN UP! System. TYTAN UP! bundles air sealing products into a package for home builders or building performance contractors. Several benefits of using the TYTAN Up! family of products include having the right product for the specific air sealing need,  easier application than competitors’ products (which saves time and labor), and reducing overall home air leakage and blower door test results.

The products the TYTAN UP! System consists of include:

  • Tytan Window/Door Pro – Polyurethane air sealing foam with low expansion properties that will not bend windows/doors. It provides a better seal than traditional fiberglass insulation, is UL Certified, and exceeds AAMA 812 requirements.
  • Tytan Fireblock Extreme Pro – Polyurethane foam with low expansion properties that adheres to most common construction materials and classified as a Type V Residential Fireblock.
  • Tytan Gasket Foam – This polyurethane foam is used for top/bottom plate sealing made with a formula that cures with rebound and memory — helping create a better seal against drywall to help prevent air leakage. It does not require a special dispenser gun compared with competitors who also use water/latex-based foams.

 

SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED

Providing exceptional customer service and quality products is a cornerstone for any business, but exceeding expectations is the foundation of Performance Point’s philosophy.

“Creating and sustaining relationships between material suppliers and applicators is something to find value in,” Jeremy emphasizes. “Sure, it can easily be discounted as company A sells product B to installer C, but it doesn’t need to be that cut-and-dry. I think it takes an appropriate amount of communication between the two parties to make sure the materials being supplied are correct and that the materials supplied are being applied and installed correctly.”

Sam points out that, “Manufacturers are looking to installers and experts like Performance Point to help direct their efforts to fit techniques that are effective for the homeowner and cost-effective for the builder. Partnering with manufacturers helps with their product development because as inspectors we see what’s missing and as installers, we know what is possible to implement. It’s great when a product comes together with a need and we can see the effectiveness of it.”

Working with material developers, manufacturers, and trusted suppliers such as TYTAN, who care immensely about their products’ effectiveness, helps us provide top-of-the-line air seal services and procedures. Plus, we are able to demonstrate how their products are applied and how they actually work in the hands of the installer, which speaks volumes to each of our commitments to perfection and success. This close relationship to builder customers and manufacturers makes Performance Point a great choice for air sealing your project. Give Performance Point a call or email us to get a bid for air sealing on your next project.

 

 

 

 

Websites/Online resources:

https://www.theperformancepoint.com/services/air-sealing

https://www.energystar.gov/campaign/seal_insulate

https://tytan.com/

https://www.thespruce.com/air-seal-home-4174533

https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/weatherize/air-sealing-your-home

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