Give Up the Ghost: How to Prevent Thermal Tracking
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Give Up the Ghost: How to Prevent Thermal Tracking

You take pride in your home and work hard to make sure it looks and functions its best. But are mysterious marks showing up on your ceiling and walls? It can be frustrating – and perhaps even a bit spooky?

Have no fear, because the issue you’re experiencing may be a common HVAC effect called thermal tracking. Read on to learn more about how it happens and what you can do to avoid it in your home.

What is thermal tracking?

Thermal tracking is when dark stains appear on walls or ceilings along the lines of the framing. This phenomenon is also called ghosting and thermal bridging. These marks are often small airborne particles that stick to the surface and form a stain. Thermal tracking is more common in homes with wood-burning fireplaces or stoves due to the production of soot.

Why does thermal tracking occur?

It often a sign that there’s insufficient insulation behind the walls or above the ceiling. This can create a temperature difference between areas along the framing line and the rest of the surface. On the cooler areas, a thin layer of condensation can form, which traps the dirty particles are they circulate in the air. Over time, a noticeable stain can appear.

How to treat and prevent thermal tracking?

If thermal tracking occurs in your home, you can try scrubbing the walls and ceiling with a mild cleaner to remove the stain. If that doesn’t work, you may need to sand and repaint the surfaces. But that’s only half the job. You also want to make sure this “ghost” doesn’t reappear in the future. To do that, you need to address:

  • Insulation behind walls and ceiling. Making sure that you have the proper level of insulation for your climate is important. Not only can this prevent minor issues like thermal tracking but it will also make your home more comfortable and energy-efficient.
  • HVAC system. There are also equipment upgrades you can make to reduce the number of airborne particles that can lead to thermal tracking. If your heating or cooling system is up-to-date and in working order, it’s important to replace the air filter at regular intervals, keep vents clean and clear, and make sure your ductwork is in good condition and cleaned out.

HVAC professionals in Fredericksburg

Thermal tracking can be an irritating HVAC issue but does not pose any further risks. To make sure all your heating and cooling systems are working properly to keep your home comfortable and safe, talk to the local experts at Robert B. Payne For all your HVAC needs, call (540) 373-5876 today.

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