Drive By Energy Audit

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On a frosty New England morning, you can really see the classic insulation patterns in a conventional ranch home design.  Take a look at this picture:

Clearly there is significant heat escaping from the garage, preventing frost from forming on the roof.  The garage in these homes is usually unheated, and there’s no attic in the garage, so what’s going on? 

Most likely, the adjoining wall was considered an interior wall when the home was built.  So they didn’t insulate it well, if at all.  Heat from the kitchen is flowing through that wall, only to be wasted warming the garage roof.  And there’s probably no insulation or air barrier under that attic roof at all.  If there was a heavy snow load, this house could be looking at ice dams.

Using frost as a diagnostic tool is not an option all the time, but roofing contractors with the right training, such as RESNET EnergySmart training from GAF, can easily recognize these symptoms and others like them.  There’s no better time than when the roof is off to fix attic or wall energy issues.  Your crew is up there anyway, with great access to the attic from above.  And energy work is great, because your client will see the results in the first year, realizing that your services made a difference. 

Have you started offering attic energy review services?  Do you agree with my diagnosis of this home’s energy situation?

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  1. Martin Grohman

    Sorry for slow reply. Sure – it would work on a flat roof. You'd have to get up there (safely) somehow to see the areas of melting, but it should show areas of poor insulation, thermal bridging, etc.

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