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Heating & Cooling

Cold Air Mystery

I am hoping someone might have ideas of how to locate a cold air source. There is cold air blowing through interior walls of our house. It is freezing our pipes. You can feel the cold air coming from below - so under the floor between the first and second floor (we have an access panel and can feel cold pipes and air coming up from underneath). If you go to first floor under where pipes are estimated to be the ceiling is colder here than anywhere else. We have can light fixtures in this area that have cold air pouring out of them as well. I cannot begin to figure out where we'd find an access point for all this cold air.
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Posted 2014-01-28T19:04:25+0000  by SBnothandy SBnothandy

Hi SBnothandy,


Thank you for your question and welcome to our community.


Having cold air entering your home is one of the ultimate nemeses of any home owner, just under and annoying leak in the roof!!  Whenever I hear of cold air penetrating into the walls of a house and freezing interior pipes, I am compelled to suspect a lack of insulation. 


Unfortunately, there is usually no easy way to fix the problem since it is hidden behind the drywall.  Do you have a basement or does your house sit on a cement slab?  One way to check for proper insulation would be to use a snake camera and insert it in the areas where the cold air seems to be penetrating. 


The only thorough way to solve this cold air dilemma  will be to pull off the drywall and inspect the area for proper insulation.  



Since warm air rises and the cold air sinks, the first floor can be much colder if there is not enough properly installed insulation.  Improperly installed insulation will lead to cold spots at the base of the walls and around light fixtures and outlets.  Since you have excessive cold air that is affecting your interior water pipes, the cold air from the outside has direct access to your pipe. 


The space around the light fixtures and electrical outlets can be sealed, but the fact that you have water pipes that are freezing demands aggressive attention least one of those pipes burst and now you have water damage to contend with as well.


Unfortunately, improper installation of insulation occurs more often than we know, especially since many contractors may try to cut costs by cutting corners.  


The Home Depot has quality contractors available thru our RedBeacon program that will be able assist you with any quality repairs you may need.


Please let us know if you have any further questions.




Posted 2014-01-28T21:08:02+0000  by Rick_HD_OC




First, contact your utilitity companies. In many areas of the country, they offer free or low cost energy assessment. Most Pros carry infra-red cameras which will immediate highight where the cold spots in your walls are. It is not neccessary to go around randomly poking holes in your wall to find leaks. They stand out "like a sore thumb" on such a camera picture! Unfortunately, it may ultimately require opening drywall, but a pro should know where the areas are before doing major cutting.


Without knowing the age of your home and its general construction, it is difficult to give detailed advice. Generally, the older the home, the more likely the insulation and air tightness is deficient.


The average house loses far more heat through air infiltration than through bad insulation. Stop the leaks and you will have gone a long way to increasing your comfort and safeguarding your pipes.


Houses act like giant chimneys with air moveing from low areas to the attic and outward to the open air. Houses have many openings cut to allow for the passage of water pipes, electrical wires, furnace stacks, etc. If your house has a basement or crawl space, there will be opeings in the ceiling of those spaces. Search them out and plug them, either with spray foam, caulk  or or at least fiberglass batting.


Many of these voids created in the basement/crawlspace go straight up to the attic and literally suck air up into the attic. Go into the attic, pull back the insulation in search of such voids. Again, plug them with foam, caulk or fiberglas batting.


Were I building my dream house, this entire attic floor area would be sealed with a few inches of closed cell spray foam before the fibeglas was placed  on top. Again, an absolute air infiltration barrier.


Don't forget to weather strip and insulate the attic hatch. Another villain is a pull down attic staircase. They leak like sieves! There are insulation kits which fit over the entire stair assembly to insulate and weather strip.


Hope this has helped somewhat.

Posted 2014-01-29T05:11:23+0000  by ordjen
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