Insulated Headers

 
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Old 03-23-2006, 06:24 PM   #1
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Insulated Headers


I was wondering how many people insulate their headers in exterior walls. In a 3 1/2 inch wall we usually build up a header from two 2X's separated with small plates of 1/2 inch plywood and the spaces between the plywood plates filled with 1/2 inch rigid foam insulation. Takes a little time but not much, and lessens the 'thermal bridging' since wood's not a great insulator. Just wondering how many folks do this in the colder climates. Or if in a 5 1/2 inch wall do you do something similar but more insulation?

-sage
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Old 03-24-2006, 11:14 AM   #2
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Re: Insulated Headers


I don't insulate headers but, the filler would not be narrow strips it would be solid, as a matter of fact, I've had inspectors tap the headers to make sure the filler was solid, kinda picky, but we gotta deal with 'em.

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Old 03-24-2006, 01:25 PM   #3
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Re: Insulated Headers


We used to do fiberglass in the 2x6 wall headers and foil back foam in the 2x4 wall headers. Also insulated outside partition posts and corners during framing. I would do it again but I really don't think it makes much difference as far as dollars saved.
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Old 03-30-2006, 03:05 PM   #4
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Re: Insulated Headers


All our walls are 2x6, and we do it with fiberglass. I'd feel cheap and dirty not to. The wood in any wall is the weak link in the insulation anyway, so why make it worse?
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Old 03-30-2006, 06:42 PM   #5
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Re: Insulated Headers


That's good to hear.

Has anyone seen an infrared thermal image of wall framing using different methods? I never did but I'd be interested to see the effects of thermal bridging graphically.

I bet someone, somewhere, has done the work to quantify heat loss by different framing techniques. If an insulated header would save $40 in fuel in 10 years I'd say it's worth it.
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Old 03-30-2006, 07:00 PM   #6
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Re: Insulated Headers


Quote:
Has anyone seen an infrared thermal image of wall framing using different methods? I never did but I'd be interested to see the effects of thermal bridging graphically.
Our city does this for homeowners.. It's amazing to see the broad range of colors!!

BTW, Our city has pretty strict energy policies for new construction. If it doesn't meet their requirements, they won't hook up the natural gas!!

There used to be a website with thermal pictures on it, showing the different techniques to eliminate thermal bridging. I will try to find it sometime.
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Old 03-31-2006, 04:54 AM   #7
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Re: Insulated Headers


Maj, what's your city? Or are you keeping anonymous.
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Old 03-31-2006, 07:05 AM   #8
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Re: Insulated Headers


Small rural community in northeast Iowa. A former manager of the utilities plant started the energy program years ago. The city provided insulated blankets for water heaters, did energy consulting,offered energy saving tools and supplies for homeowners, just to name a few of the programs he started.

All new construction must meet certain criteria(R-value mainly)in order to get hooked up.Even basement walls have to be a minimum R13.
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Old 04-01-2006, 01:34 AM   #9
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Re: Insulated Headers


Wood isn't a conductor either. If I was required to do it I'd put 1/2 cool ply. We do insulate ex. arches just due to the air space!
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Old 04-04-2006, 07:34 AM   #10
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Re: Insulated Headers


There is a nationally recognized builder in Enid Ok., that does the energy efficient homes, and they stuff all the headers with fiberglass, and caulk every intersection on walls...they claim to be getting utilities down to $200 on a 3000+ sq/ft home...of course, all 2 x 6 ext. walls, ect. We have used the foil for 2X headers...I think it is well worth the headaches.
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Old 04-04-2006, 08:27 AM   #11
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Re: Insulated Headers


1/2" insulation between your headers and you just lost most the shear strength of your nails, however most headers are over kill and this plays mostly in patio doors and larger openings.

Bob
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Old 04-04-2006, 07:46 PM   #12
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Re: Insulated Headers


All of our exterior walls are 2x6 here for R20, I like to split my 2x10 headers and insulate between with fiberglass insulation giving backing for curtain rods and such. A lot of framers here double up the header and put the 2x10 to the outside leaving it hollow on the inside for the insulaters to do after.
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Old 12-29-2008, 07:25 PM   #13
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Re: Insulated Headers


Quote:
Originally Posted by karma_carpentry View Post
That's good to hear.

Has anyone seen an infrared thermal image of wall framing using different methods? I never did but I'd be interested to see the effects of thermal bridging graphically.

I bet someone, somewhere, has done the work to quantify heat loss by different framing techniques. If an insulated header would save $40 in fuel in 10 years I'd say it's worth it.
There are several interesting facts and photos contained in the Advanced Framing Guide which is part of State of Oregon Energy Code revised 2005. Infrared photos are shown in State of Nevada Final Report. If you have difficulty finding them I would be glad to send them.
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Old 12-29-2008, 07:36 PM   #14
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Re: Insulated Headers


We use 2x6 construction to get a minimum of R20 in the walls including frost walls in basement, The headers are nailed together without a space and against the sheeting then we use 3.5 inchs of rigid foam with all gaps spray foamed.
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Old 12-29-2008, 08:05 PM   #15
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Re: Insulated Headers


we frequently frame for a GC that requires every header to be insulated, he used to have use frame those double 2"x4" walls, but is now 2"x6" with foam sheathing and R21 in the walls including caulking every stud cavity. He also supplies us with a Sh*t ton of expanding foam to use..sometimes, he seems like over kill, but the NRG cost are so low...
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Old 12-29-2008, 08:11 PM   #16
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Re: Insulated Headers


Quote:
Originally Posted by karma_carpentry View Post
I was wondering how many people insulate their headers in exterior walls. In a 3 1/2 inch wall we usually build up a header from two 2X's separated with small plates of 1/2 inch plywood and the spaces between the plywood plates filled with 1/2 inch rigid foam insulation. Takes a little time but not much, and lessens the 'thermal bridging' since wood's not a great insulator. Just wondering how many folks do this in the colder climates. Or if in a 5 1/2 inch wall do you do something similar but more insulation?

-sage
I've always been told that wood is one of the better insulators. You have an exterior header and what's under it? GLASS or a DOOR. Where do all your heat and air runs end? WINDOW or DOOR!! Why, because thats your biggest heating and air problem areas. Insulating headers is a waste of time and money, all you heating and cooling costs are already aimed at these areas. I know, insulated glass, just look at the U-Value on them and tell me it's not. There is no such thing as insulated glass!!!!!
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Old 12-29-2008, 08:20 PM   #17
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Re: Insulated Headers


All my headers are completely solid. 2x6 ext walls get 3-2x8 w/plywood slabs. then 2x6 top and bottom runner. thats as spec from my builder. all partions on the exterior get insulated during framing. corners are half partitions so insulators do that deed. its bad enough we gotta take time and insulate before setting the shower units. cant stand the itchy stuff.
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Old 12-29-2008, 08:35 PM   #18
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Re: Insulated Headers


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Originally Posted by borat_borat1950 View Post
I've always been told that wood is one of the better insulators. You have an exterior header and what's under it? GLASS or a DOOR. Where do all your heat and air runs end? WINDOW or DOOR!! Why, because thats your biggest heating and air problem areas. Insulating headers is a waste of time and money, all you heating and cooling costs are already aimed at these areas. I know, insulated glass, just look at the U-Value on them and tell me it's not. There is no such thing as insulated glass!!!!!
Contrary to popular belief, wood is a poor insulator. 1" of wood has an R-value of 1. Your door header has an R-value of R-3 at most. Your door or window will conduct heat and cold much less than your header. With todays technology it is possible and convenient to have a R-13 header which will be equivalent to exterior walls. I would recommend insulating all headers, corners, intersecting wall "t's" with insulation equivalent to ext. walls R-13, not only for more affordable utility bills but for the comfort a well insulated home affords you.
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Old 12-29-2008, 08:53 PM   #19
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Re: Insulated Headers


Antbody that thinks they are getting a R13 in a 3 1/2" wall or R19 in a 5 1/2" wall is a real dreamer.

That is the theoretical maximum short term R-value of the insulation used and thw wall itself will be less because of the thermal short circuiting of the studs. Granted, wood it better than stel studs, but the reduction can be 5% to 15% depending on the stud size and spacing.

Also, there is no mass credit for lightweight construction like wood or steel stud.
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Old 12-29-2008, 09:13 PM   #20
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Re: Insulated Headers


Quote:
Originally Posted by DLE View Post
Contrary to popular belief, wood is a poor insulator. 1" of wood has an R-value of 1. Your door header has an R-value of R-3 at most. Your door or window will conduct heat and cold much less than your header. With todays technology it is possible and convenient to have a R-13 header which will be equivalent to exterior walls. I would recommend insulating all headers, corners, intersecting wall "t's" with insulation equivalent to ext. walls R-13, not only for more affordable utility bills but for the comfort a well insulated home affords you.
3 and 1/2 inch header, r of 3??????? not even close. Why do we blow all our haet and air dollars at windows then? The biggest detrement to the envelope of a house is glass, with a U-Value of almost nothing???


Last edited by borat_borat1950; 12-29-2008 at 09:18 PM.
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