Air Infiltration Stopped Dead in its Tracks with Gaskets

Adding Gaskets to Windows Frame

Adding Gaskets to Windows Frame

We complete our ENERGY STAR designated House in 2005.   Prior to receiving the designation, energy auditors performed a blower door audit to confirm that the house met the standards for weather efficiency.  We passed with flying colors.  Fast forward, six year later and house shifting, I decided to hire another company to audit the house.  Boy, was I surprised.  Here is what I should have installed to keep air infiltration at bay: Gaskets!

If you are thinking of remodeling, redoing your windows, or building new, this article is a must read.

Insulation Histroy

Walk down memory lane with me.  As my loyal readers may recall, we used Icynene, an open cell foam insulation in all of the exterior walls from the basement to the second floor.  In addition, the second floor ceiling is full of Icynene as well.  We were required to put silicon where the wood studs touched.  I don’t recall if I had to do this in order to receive a rebate for the geothermal system or the ENERGY STAR designation.

So, when the auditor pointed his infrared camera  at my walls in my bedroom, he noticed that cold was infiltrating right near my crown moldings.   (Right where the walls meets the ceiling.)

Holy Sh*t!  I think I scared the auditor.

Then he pointed the camera down to my baseboard moldings and guess what?   Cold infiltration!  If  he had pointed that camera at the top of my head he would have seen smoke coming out it.  Red hot angry smoke.

Whole level of emotions ran through my body from being pissed to totally confused.  How could this be?

“We are heavily insulated,” I whimpered to the auditor.

Heck, I prided myself on the energy efficiency of my house.  It has a reputation to uphold in a good way.  (Yes, we believe in sweaters.  No skimpy tank tops here.)

Why Is There Leakage?

When I had time to think about it, the leakage is where the two pieces of framing wood met.  You don’t foam wood. Only the cavities.

One day I was complaining to my cousin about my air infiltration in the e-house (which got demoted to the i-house as in infiltration house.)   He replied I should have used gaskets. Gaskets?  What the heck are those? Aren’t they used in cars?

As he further explains, he installed them right where cold was infiltrating my house.

What the Heck Are Gaskets?

Adding Gaskets to Bottom plates

Adding Gaskets to Bottom plates

Green Building Advisor’s have a great article about the use of air sealing tapes and gaskets.  It’s funny.  I never see any articles about gaskets.  I guess I am not the only one left out in the cold.

The GBA article tipped me off on sources such as Conservation Technology, who sells various gaskets for windows, doors, rim joists, and framing. (Remember we talked about shutting down air infiltration from  your rim joist in the basement?)

As I continued to read Conservation Technology’s website, right there, plain as day was my problem:

“DRYWALL GASKETS: BG32 drywall gaskets are stapled to wall studs, top plates, and bottom plates before drywall is installed in order to prevent air flow between the drywall and the wood. They can be easily installed in any weather, even when wood is cold, wet, or dirty. The head of the seal compresses easily to less than 1/8”, so there is minimal pressure on the drywall. Always screw the drywall where gaskets are used.”

What Are the Advantages of Gaskets?

This type of system is called Air Tight Drywall.  The advantages according to an About.com article are:

  • “Is an effective method to produce a reliable air barrier system.
  • Using an airtight drywall approach is a simple construction method that does not require specialized labor or subcontractors.
  • The airtight drywall approach does not require unusual construction techniques.
  • Materials used on an airtight drywall approach are easily accessible.
  • Using the airtight drywall approach does not prevent the drywall from being glued to the face of studs and joists.
  • Gaskets can be installed between the house when is ‘dried-in’ and the drywall is attached to framing.
  • Some caulks can remain pliable and applied several days before the drywall is finally installed.
  • The airtight drywall approach could be easily adapted to fit almost any design and schedulet o fit most construction schedules.
  • ADA is simple and could be accomplished without producing errors.
  • Materials and labor for standard designs do not introduce higher costs, as a matter of example gasket costs vary between 20 to 25 cents per foot.”

According to Fine Homebuilding (one of my favorite magazine)  air infiltration can occur from the cracks where the drywall is screwed to the framing lumber.  The article further states that gaskets out preform caulk any day and suggests the following gaskets:

“opencell foam gaskets (available from Denarco, manufacturer of Sure Seal gaskets; 269-435-8404), EPDM gaskets (www.conservationtechnology.com); or gaskets that are made from ripped lengths of foam sill seal.”

So at this point, what can I do about my air infiltration?

Be sure to read the following articles of how to stop air infiltration:

And yes, I am a little obsessed with air infiltration.  Tomorrow take a look at some by blower door footage!

Join the Conversation:

  • Have you had your house blower door tested? If so, let us know about your experience.
  • Have you used gaskets to stop air infiltration? If so, let us know about your experience.
  • Do feel drafts in your house?
  • Any suggestions on how to stop my air infiltration?


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