Promote healthy indoor air quality with air sealing

After a summer of unprecedented wildfires, people on the West Coast have a fresh reminder not to take healthy indoor air quality (IAQ) for granted. Homeowners and homebuyers are more aware than ever of how wildfires can create hazardous air quality in their homes. Air sealing and air barriers are critical design components to ensure healthy air in new homes.

How do air sealing and air barriers work?

Air sealing works by blocking unwanted outdoor air from entering the home through electrical, plumbing and mechanical penetrations in the building shell. Apply air sealing with a foam gun and/or caulk, and apply rigid foam board to block cavities.

Air barriers create a continuous block to reduce air leakage and allow very little air or water vapor to travel through. Apply sheet materials with sealants (i.e., plywood, sheetrock and rigid foam board) on exterior walls, floors and ceilings, as well as behind tubs, showers and fireplaces.

To achieve quality air sealing, builders must take a holistic approach, keeping in mind the importance of:

  • Intersections and level changes in the building envelope: There are potential indirect leakage sites every time a wall meets another wall, floor or ceiling, making air sealing critical.
  • Penetrations through both the framing and the sheet products: Running electrical or plumbing through a home often causes gaps or cracks, requiring builders to seal or caulk all holes in the envelope.
  • Leakage in systems such as ductwork that extends into attics, crawl spaces and garages: Preventing leakage in systems ensures a more effective system to heat or cool the house, as heat or cool air is not escaping in these areas.

For builders looking to further address IAQ, utilize the EPSTM air barrier and sealing checklist that outlines specific qualifications needed to meet EPS New Construction requirements for air barriers and air sealing. Additionally, learn about integrating balanced ventilation into your plans.

Take advantage of cash incentives to offset costs for better air sealing in your new homes. Builders can earn incentives for including air sealing and air barriers in their construction plans through the EPS New Construction offering.

Email the EPS New Construction team to learn more about how we can help you achieve healthy IAQ in your new construction projects.