Attic improvement in Hazelwood row house

Pittsburgh and Philadelphia row houses built between 1900 and 1930 are notoriously difficult to improve. While their compact structure and shared walls save energy, attics often lack insulation, even in modernized homes. Studies by weatherization agencies have shown that simply blowing insulation into these 3-foot to 1-foot tall spaces does not produce the desired effect. The reason: too many major air bypasses and leaks exist between the living space and these unconditioned attics. To perform this improvement effectively, the insulation technician needs to crawl into the extremely narrow space and seal the bypasses and leaks before adding insulation. Some areas may require cutting a hole in the roof to access, especially considering that insulation cannot come into direct contact with the chimney for fire safety reasons. In this particular project, we also discovered that two dropped ceilings had to be removed and replaced with drywall to properly align the air and thermal barriers. Although complex and performed just before the roof replacement on this rental unit, the Hazelwood Initiative and E3 hope to monitor the energy usage in this property to confirm the modeling prediction of saving approximately $280 a year.

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