The candle has been around the cave and the realm of weatherization and energy efficiency for some time now, but here’s an app which few have ever conceptualized.


In the early days of weatherization, before the thermagraph, even before the blower door, the trusty candle provided us several enlightening concepts. It would flicker when breezes brushed against its flame as a clear indicator of infiltration. Before the fancy schmancy digital manometers, a few old timers would mount a box fan in a window and measure the flame distortion sideways to gather crude data about the amount of flow under a known pressure, an indication of how leaky the house was.


But today I am introducing you to a new concept – tracer deposits! I came across this by accident in an architect’s home, an architect whose wife burned candles and then he noticed the blackened outline of his cooled joists near the walls where the condensation of PARAFIN had deposited.


In a few places between the joists it was possible to also see the path of windwashing of heat on the other side of the sheetrock where soffit vents were poorly baffled and allowed the cooling that marked the area as a place to add both insulation and correctly placed baffles. The paraffin deposits were ‘air-brushed’ in a gentle sweep, reflecting the path of outside air passing too close to the sheetrock and marking what needed to be retrofitted.


Photos tomorrow. You'll witness air-brushed thermograhs (in Black and White) created by cave-dwellers in a modern home where the wind-washing gave the carbon black a tell-tale story of how things are on the other side!

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Comment by Joseph Lamy on July 28, 2011 at 10:56am

Last week I posted a thing about Black and White 'thermography' where a lady burned candles in her home. The soot stuck to where the condensation had formed (under the ceiling joists near/against the sidewalls and a few 'air-brushed' paths between them where a missing baffle had allowed wind-washing of heat from out of the insulation).


What gets me is how COOL this recognition was, that it was done with a candle and it absolutely identified a thermal anomaly that weatherization gurus like us should have reveled in discovering. BUTT, nobody gave a hoot. Am I nuts, or is this candle app particlarly (!!:)) extraordinary?? It was a Black and White thermograph - old-timey yes, but as accurate as any $10,000 infrared camera, it was in plain sight for us who have the eyes to see, and it clearly told the truth about the thermal failures occurring the other side of the sheetrock!


I am actually quite surprised that nobody responded yet. Maybe it was the humble candle introducing the topic. Perhaps with a money-saving down-grade approach, I could have enLIGHTened our readership. "Get great results with Black/White Thermograph...for only One Dollar. Light here! Soot there!"


PS. Photos didn't come out and I didn't want to pester the nice folks for a second round. I did give them LED flashlights to compensate for the hassle the first time. That was enough, and enough is enough, if you get my drift!


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