Thermal bridging is a phenomenon where outlines of framing are traced on the wall and ceiling. In this post, local roofing and siding contractor Classic Remodeling Corp. shares what causes thermal bridging, and how it can be prevented.
What Causes Thermal Bridging?
Thermal bridging, also known as thermal tracking or “ghosting,” happens when dark stains appear on the wall and ceiling. These stains are typical in environments where there is a high concentration of soot, fine dust and other particles, such as homes that use wood-burning stoves as a heating system.
Walls and ceilings with insufficient insulation turn the areas directly beneath the framing cooler than other parts. This forms a thin and often imperceptible layer of condensation, which attracts particles and retains them. This formation isn’t as noticeable at first, but as particles accumulate, they become more prominent, resulting in “ghost” marks. At this point, these marks are already difficult to remove.
How to Prevent Thermal Bridging
The most straightforward solution is the same that one would use on worn-out siding: scrape and repaint, or perhaps strip and replace the wallpaper. While these are serviceable solutions, they do not address the causes. Looking into the following areas can help prevent thermal bridging:
Indoor Air Quality — As discussed above, stains from thermal tracking are caused by soot and other fine particles. Their presence indicates poor indoor air quality, which means you need to address this issue by making sure HVAC air filters are replaced when clogged. HVAC inspections should also be conducted by a professional. In addition to preventing thermal bridging, maintaining indoor air quality can be beneficial to your health.
Indoor Humidity — Condensation contributes to thermal bridging, therefore indoor humidity levels must be controlled. Proper heating and air conditioning settings help maintain relative indoor humidity levels. You can also have a humidifier/dehumidifier system installed to help balance relative indoor humidity levels.
Insulation — Address the temperature differences between framing and wall by having the wall and attic insulation repaired by a professional. Addressing insulation issues, particularly on the exterior walls, can also help improve your home’s energy efficiency.