Basics and Prevention of Air Stack Effect

At All Hours Plumbing, our HVAC services are second to none. We’re dedicated to keeping you and your family warm this winter and for years into the future, with services for everything from installation to furnace repair and much more.

We can also help you combat certain air loss issues that may impact both your comfort and your utility bill, and one such issue is known as “stack effect.” Common in skyscrapers and taller buildings, this effect can also impact two-story family homes. Let’s go over some of the basics of this effect, why it’s a potential problem for you, and how you can prevent it.

Stack Effect Basics

The stack effect is a condition where the structure in question, often a tall building, acts like a huge chimney for air inside it. It funnels all warm air upwards at a high rate, eventually allowing it to leave the structure either through leaks or simple heat transfer.

For stack effect to take place, the outside temperature has to be significantly lower than that on the inside. The effect can take place due to the fact that cold air is much denser than warm air – when cold air enters the structure, it does so at the bottom and begins to push warm air up and away. As this process cycles through, more cold air is pulled in and drafts get stronger, compounding the problem. One major reason why skyscrapers started using revolving doors decades ago was to fight the stack effect; people were struggling to even open doors at ground level due to the suction effect here.

Why It’s an Issue

The primary reason stack effect is an issue is the way it costs you money. It can happen even in two-story homes, causing you to lose air and running up your heating bill.

In addition, however, stack effect tends to worsen over time. It may start with small cracks or minor areas where insulation is imperfect, but stronger and stronger airflow will put pressure on these openings and widen them. It commonly exacerbates things like cracked weather stripping, crumbling masonry and other structural issues. And as this happens, the vicious cycle only intensifies.

How to Combat Stack Effect

The best combatant to stack effect is strong insulation, which stops warm air from having anywhere to go once it reaches your ceiling in upper floors. If this air is allowed to reach the attic or the outdoors, you’ve lost the battle. Make sure your insulation is up to date, and that things like air ducts, ceilings and light fixtures all are properly sealed. If you think there’s an air leak somewhere and you can’t pinpoint it, call our HVAC pros for help.

For more on preventing stack effect in your home, or to learn about any of our HVAC or plumbing services, speak to the staff at All Hours Plumbing today.

2019-06-11T11:56:43+00:00January 20th, 2019|Blog|