We wear our winters like a badge of honor here in Wisconsin but not when they mess with our spring. Teeth-chattering in May is a crazy-maker! If you’ve needed a sweater some days under your own roof this month, get your home checked for wind-washing—before that chill becomes a distant memory (that’ll come back to bite you next winter if you don’t fix it).
Don’t know about wind-washing? No worries. Most people haven’t heard of it. Wind-washing describes the problem that occurs when wind-driven air moves through your wall and attic insulation, stripping its heat and lowering its R-Value. (The R-Value is the measure of your insulation’s power to insulate.) This is most likely to occur at corners and in the space between first and second floors.
While wind does need to move through attics for proper ventilation, it shouldn’t move through your insulation. Fiberglass and rockwool insulation are the most vulnerable. Typically the problem starts at the open, unsealed soffits in vented attics. Wind gushes in and presses through the insulation. The solution may be a combination of foam blocks, attic baffles, and foam baffles—the point being to ensure that wind travels up the venting rather than into the insulation. House wraps such as Tyvec are also important here.
In bitterly cold states like ours, the highest of R-Values are recommended. You simply can’t afford to have them compromised: Wind-washing effectively sucks money right out of your wallet toward higher energy bills. You need not wait until a cold, windy day to check for wind-washing. A blower-door test, which simulates the pressure of 20 mph winds, can do the trick. If it’s determined you need to retrofit your home to stop wind-washing, keep in mind that it’s a wise investment that will lower your energy bills. Also keep in mind that do-it-yourselfers risk causing ice dams, condensation, and mold problems. Let a professional handle it. We can’t take the chill out of this spring, but we can take the chill out of your insulation!