What Is Thermal Bridging And Why Do We Get It?
Thermal bridging usually happens when there are gaps in the building’s envelope. A thermal bridge can also be referred to as a cold bridge. Typically, this can happen if there is a gap or a break in the insulation. This can occur when the insulation itself has been penetrated with something that actually has a higher thermal conductivity.
A cold bridge will not only allow the loss of heat, but it will also cause any warm air inside your building to cool down. This isn’t ideal, in fact it’s far from ideal. Thermal bridging and cold bridging need to be eradicated as early as possible by making sure that your build is designed well, constructed well and the materials used are the best. You will also need to know what materials can work in unison, and what materials could cause potential problems. If you know what the causes are, or why thermal bridging happens, then you’re halfway there. As I say, knowledge is power!
Buildings are now starting to be better insulated in the hope that this will contribute to the overall energy performance of the build. However, if you experience thermal bridging it can severely impact your build. The heat loss from this can be quite dramatic, which why it is important to ensure that this doesn’t happen.
If cold bridging happens then you could experience mould. As we all know, not only is mould unsightly, it can also be very problematic and even, in severe cases, cause health issues.
The design of your build can play a big part in whether you experience thermal bridging. The design of buildings isn’t just to decide how your home, office or project will look. It actually dictates how your build will perform, in terms of energy efficiency. The materials used and the workmanship of your build are also important factors.
If you’re currently building, or planning on building you need to know that either you, if you’re self -building, or your workforce, know and understand thermal bridges, as well as cold bridges. They will need to know and understand what building components will interact with each other. The heat itself will always find the easiest route to escape. Thermal bridging can cause up to 30% heat loss! That’s a huge reduction!
Breaks in the building’s envelope are usually found around the windows or doors, between the walls and floors, the connections between the walls and roof or penetrations from pipes, cables and steel wall ties. This isn’t to say that it can’t happen anywhere else; these are just the most common areas and ones to look out for. Make sure that you fully understand how both thermal bridges and cold bridges happen before you start construction.
Older buildings commonly have thermal bridges, which can be down to the construction methods, design, materials used, a general misunderstanding or even poor workmanship. The regulations we now have to adhere to in construction, help to ensure that our builds are the best that they can be. These regulations have got tougher over the years, so it is quite understandable that thermal bridging is often seen in older homes.
Prevention is always better than a cure, so don’t rest on your laurels. Ensure you know all there is to know before construction begins, before design even. Make sure you have a great team behind you and seek help from the experts at the early stages. That’s what they’re there for after all.