Thermal tracking is a phenomenon where outlines of the framing are tracked or “ghosted” on walls and ceilings. In today’s post, local home siding replacement company ARCH Exteriors, LLC shares a look at the underlying cause of thermal tracking: thermal bridging.
What Is Thermal Bridging?
Thermal bridging is the end result of insufficient insulation in the walls and the attic. As the heat is conducted (or “bridged”) through the framing, the colder surface forms a barely noticeable layer of condensation, which attracts soot, dust, and other fine particles. Indoor thermal tracking is more common during the heating season, as indoor heating is lost through the inadequately insulated frames. Sometimes the reverse happens during the cooling season, as parts of the siding become cooler due to indoor cooling.
Thermal tracking is barely noticeable at first. By the time you notice its telltale marks, they would already be difficult to remove. The only practical way to fix it is to repaint the wall, replace the wallpaper, or do either for the siding. However, it still does not address the causes, therefore the risk of thermal tracking would still be present.
How to Prevent Thermal Tracking
Our years of experience as a siding contractor tell us that the best way to deal with thermal tracking is to address its causes.
Insulation — The exterior walls and ceiling are part of an insulated enclosure intended to maintain consistent indoor temperatures. Insufficient insulation (or lack of it) on the framing causes thermal bridging, so additional insulation will have to be installed. Insulated vinyl siding can also bolster exterior wall insulation and help prevent exterior thermal tracking.
Indoor Air Quality — We have discussed how soot and other particles form tracks on the walls and ceilings. If your home is heated with a fuel-burning heating system, make sure the exhaust isn’t leaking into your indoor living areas. Regularly inspect the HVAC air filters and replace them when clogged. Install a whole-home air purifier to further clean indoor air.
Relative Indoor Humidity — Prevent condensation from forming by keeping relative indoor humidity levels at 50%. Run exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen to control moisture that’s released in these areas of your home. If you don’t already have one, install a whole-home indoor humidifier/dehumidifier to maintain relative indoor humidity levels all year round.
ARCH Exteriors, LLC is your leading provider of roof repair and insulated siding installation services. Give us a call at (877) 214-2831. You can also fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.