Today’s energy audit house took me to the mat! A mild January day, it was 50 degrees outside and 72 degrees inside. I looked at the IR pictures of the walls of this 1 story 85 yr old stucco home and did not know what I was looking at. Were the plaster-covered walls made of super thick plaster? Was the plaster covering masonry or frame? If frame, was it insulated or not?
Down to the basement I ran, to find every inch covered with finish, except a tiny hole at the gas line, revealing solid brick wall above grade. Next up thru the hatch to the attic, to find old 2x4’s sticking above the floor joists. Putting a camera into the wall cavity I snapped a picture that showed some loose white fiberglass, same as in the attic. Did the fiberglass fill the cavity to the bottom? Then over to another side of the attic, to confirm same situation where joists run parallel to wall.
Finally the homeowner returns and we discuss. He agrees I may drill and patch holes in two closet walls— one the north wall with an IR “read” showing cold nails at the studs and the other the west wall with an IR “read” showing a nearly even temperature across studs and cavities. Any guesses as to the finish material??
I had several guesses, but what I found was a surprise: a 1/2” fiberboard with a 1/8” coat of plaster and no insulation in the wall cavities. A great candidate for dense pack insulation (if the wall finish will take the pressure).
Good news for the owner that the walls could be filled from the attic, with drilling only needed at walls below windows. Only downside was having to explain to owner that fiberboard does not meet modern fire code. In the rooms he doesn’t plan to remodel this year, he’ll have to live with the fiberboard. Replacing with drywall throughout the home would blow his budget this year.
More good news. This lucky homeowner hired an architect who incorporates an energy audit into his plans for remodeling the house, knowing he can include energy saving measures at a small cost during the remodel! Most of our energy audits of remodeled homes occur AFTER the remodel and the homeowners are not happy to see the deficiencies we find with the remodel.