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BUILDING ENVELOPE INSULATION RECOMMENDED DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS AND GUIDE SPECIFICATIONS
Objective Show the benefit that SPEC-Foam will provide energy savings, quieter living environment, easier temperature control, less drafty interiors, reduce dust and pollutants and provide a controlled environment thus reducing and/or eliminating the potential for mold growth.
U.S. Department of Energy Dont rely on insulation: The most common insulation,fiberglass, DOES NOT STOP air leakage.In older homes, dirty fiberglass is a telltale sign of air movement ( It simply collects dirt like a filter ) D.O.E. While most new houses have good insulation levels, it is often poorly installed, in general, gaps and compaction of insulation reduce its effectiveness….D.O.E 2000 AIR INFILTRATION: Air leakage is outside air that enters a structure uncontrollably through cracks and openings. It is UNWISE to rely on air leakage for ventilation. During cold or windy weather, too much air may enter a structure and during warm or calm weather, to little. Also a leaky house that allows moldy, dusty attic crawlspace air to enter is NOT HEALTHY….D.O.E.
U.S. Department of Energy Water vapor condensation is a major threat to the structure of a house, no matter what the climate, in cold climates pressure differences can drive warm moist indoor air into exterior walls and attics. The air condenses at it cools.The same can be said for southern climates, just in reverse. As the humid outdoor air enters the walls and encounters cooler wall cavities, it condenses INTO water. This is the main reason why some buildings in the South have problems with mold and rotten wood after theyre retrofit with air conditioners. D.O.E. July 2000 In a 100 sq. foot wall, 1 cup of water can diffuse through drywall without a vapor barrier in a year….but 50 cups of water can enter through a 1/2 round hole. In fact, sealing air leaks is times as important as installing a vapor barrier…D.O.E. GOOD AIR SEALING ALONE MAY REDUCE UTILITY COSTS BY AS MUCH AS 50% WHEN COMPAIRED TO HOUSES OF THE SAME TYPE AND AGE ….D.O.E.
Water Vapor Diffusion Water vapor diffusion is the migration of water through a solid material in a vaporized state. Water vapor migrates from areas of higher absolute humidity to areas of lower absolute humidity. ( From warmer to cooler climates) Construction materials will allow passage of water into or out of a structure by way of vapor diffusion leading to condensation and moisture on the cold side of the structural assembly, commonly known as dew point. Controlling vapor can be accomplished with the application of a vapor barrier.The vapor barrier should be applied on the exterior side of the assembly in warmer climates and on the interior side of an assembly in colder climates. A true vapor barrier eliminates the migration of water molecules into a wall assembly and eliminates condensation within the assembly. Great care must be taken to insure that vapor barriers are not placed on the wrong side of an assembly. Mixed zone states, like Georgia, should not have a vapor barrier on either side…because of our half year seasons.
SPEC-FOAM compared to Fiberglass Airtight SPEC-FOAM insulated wall R-value compared to traditional fiberglass ORNL performance check between whole building thermal performance criteria and exterior wall measured clear wallR-value thermal bridging, thermal mass and airtightness
Average Specification Guidlines ASTM E-84- Compiled from information completed on Steiner Tunnel Flame Spread: 20 Smoke Development: 400 Class 1 R-Values between R R-7.5 pound per cubic foot foam: R pound per cubic foot foam:R-6.5 K-factor ASTM
SPEC-FOAM and wall strength Racking force, shearing loads and lateral loads caused by wind, snow, and changes in live loads generate compressive force. Although common and customary building practices are followed and enforced by code officials, many times homes are built to minimal standards. Minimal standards are usually safe but may be noticed by unsuspecting homeowners during habitation of the structure. Compressive force will distort a wall from a rectangular shape to an offset parallelogram. SPEC-FOAM foam will provide 2.5 to 3 times the racking strength to identical wall assemblies of different construction. Identical 8x8 models are tested with Horizontal / lateral force is applied in 400 lb. increments until failure is observed.
SPEC-FOAM and wall strength
Wind wash is also air intrusion. Unlike air infiltration, wind wash occurs when wind drives air into a wall cavity and then exists out of the same orifice. The interior envelope of the structure has not been breached, but the stability of the internal wall thermal gradient has been disrupted. Wind wash can undermine and reduce total R-value with a wall assembly using traditional insulation. Wind Wash can occur separately from intrusion. SPEC FOAM eliminates wind wash and the need for exterior house wraps and barriers. Wind Wash
Blower Door Testing The introduction of blower doors to weatherization providers has greatly increased their effectiveness by allowing them to accurately locate the holes in the building envelope where outside air infiltrates indoors. (Credit: David Saum, Infiltec) Blower doors are variable-speed fans equipped with a frame and shroud that permit them to fit inside a variety of doorframes. The instrumentation includes pressure gauges that enable the operator to determine the flow of air through the fan as well as the pressure the fan induces on a dwelling. Since leakier houses require more airflow to induce a given pressure difference, blower doors can measure the relative leakiness of a house. Blower doors can also reveal the location of many leaks, thus providing a clear target for air sealing. When the job is partially or fully complete, blower doors also provide technicians with quick feedback on the effectiveness of their work. In addition, blower doors can help diagnose which parts of a house do not need to be sealed. This allows weatherization crews to focus on the real problems.air sealing Blower door technology has contributed significantly to the evolution of weatherization and building science. Before the advent of this technology and the detailed analysis of patterns of convective energy losses that it allows, most air leakage was thought to occur toward the mid-height of the conditioned building envelope, primarily through doors and windows. Accordingly, DOE and weatherization professionals advocated weatherstripping and caulking in those areas. In fact, blower doors do reveal leaks from doors and windows, although their effects are amplified, since small areas result in high-velocity air currents. However, leakage from doors and windows represents a relatively small percentage of convective losses in most dwellings, and serious leaks tend to occur at the bottom and especially at the top of the conditioned envelope. As a result of the widespread use of blower doors, weatherization crews increasingly seal the air in attics and basements where most air infiltration into the house takes place.
Whos afraid of the big bad wolf? The introduction of blower doors to weatherization providers has greatly increased their effectiveness by allowing them to accurately locate the holes in the building envelope where outside air infiltrates indoors. (Credit: David Saum, Infiltec)
Air Leakage Rates To discuss the impact of air leakage, its helpful to have a unit of measurement. One common unit is air changes per hour (ach), which refers to the number of times in an hour that a volume of air equal to the volume of the house will pass through the building. Heres a simple example. The footprint of this house is 40 ft. by 45ft. (1800 sq. ft.), and the ceilings are 8 ft. high. (40 x 45 x 8 = 14,400 cu. ft.) Oikos If the air leakage rate of this house is 0.5 ach, then half its volume (7,200 cu. ft.) of air would move through it in an hour. Thats 120 cu. ft. per minute. (7,200 cu. ft./hr. ÷ 60 min.)
Air Leakage Rates Oikos Heres another way to look at the difference that air sealing can make. Imagine that all the leaks were combined into a single hole in the wall. That typical 1800 sq. ft. house would have a hole about 120 sq. in., or 10 in. x 12 in. Standard air sealing would reduce the whole to 60 sq. in., while advanced air sealing would cut it to about 35 sq. in. For comparison, the area of this page is about 94 sq. in The heating load due to air leakage can make up about a quarter to a third of a homes total space heating requirement. Often in newer homes built with more efficient windows and doors and higher levels of insulation, little attention is paid to air sealing. Builders believe they construct quality homes and dont believe that a little air leakage is that big a deal, after all, a house has got to breathe.
Leaky Air Ducts Forced air heating and cooling systems are another major source of air leakage. They affect air leakage rates in two ways: through leaks in the system components and by creating a pressure difference between parts of the home and the outside. Recent studies indicate how severe the problem is: In one study, homes with forced air distribution systems used 16 percent more energy than homes with zonal electric heat. All the homes had similar insulation levels. Ducted air distribution losses cut heating and cooling efficiency by 25 to 40 percent. In one study, the cracks and openings in ductwork represented 13 percent of the house leakage area. But when the furnace blower operated, ducts accounted for 70 percent of the air leakage. Duct leakage commonly reaches 350 cubic feet per minute during blower operation. During operation, air pressure inside ducts reaches 50 pascals (0.2 in. w.g.). That pressure can create 25 times more air leakage through a hole in the duct than the same size hole in the building shell. So, a one square inch hole in a duct is equivalent to a 25 square inch hole in a wall. A buildings air leakage rate can triple when the furnace blower is turned on. Oikos Green Building Source
Leaky Air Ducts If the ductwork or the air handler is outside the heated space, air will leak through the joints, seams, filter slots, plenum connections and maintenance openings, unless they are properly sealed. The leakage is greatest when the system is on, because the blower creates higher pressure differences between the inside and outside of the duct. But there is some leakage even when the fan is off. Ducts are commonly located in crawlspace, basements, or attics, but the air in ducts is really inside air. Warm indoor air rises into return ductwork in the attic even with the blower off. This air can then leak into the attic, which contributes to the stack effect. Likewise, openings in supply ducts in the lower portion of the home allow air to enter from the crawlspace or unheated basement. Oikos Greeen Building Source
Differencial Pressures A forced air system works by creating a difference in pressure between the area where the supply registers are located and the area where the returns are located. A home with a typical duct layout has a positive net pressure around the perimeter of the home and a negative net pressure near the center. For example, bedrooms are usually pressurized and the hallway is depressurized. Higher pressure inside the bedrooms compared to outdoors pushes conditioned inside air out through openings in exterior walls. Outside air is pulled into the central portions of the home where negative pressure dominates. Air commonly comes from the crawlspace, through openings in the floor for plumbing and through the ducts themselves. Poorly designed duct systems can contribute to the problem because the air flow between supply and return isnt balanced. (The registers dont supply the same volume of air that is drawn into the return grille.) Even well designed systems may have only one or two returns. So, closing doors between supplies and the return makes matters worse. Oikos, Green Building Source
Stack Effect Openings alone dont cause air leakage. There must be a force to push air through the holes. (This is why a leaky houses cant be counted on to ventilate themselves naturally or breathe.) Two natural forces cause air to move in and out of buildings: stack effect and wind. Over the course of a year, the stack effect causes the most uncontrolled air leakage in the average house. As air becomes warmer it also becomes less dense. In wintertime, air inside is warmer and less dense than air outside. The difference in densities causes the warmer inside air to rise toward the ceiling where it escapes to the outside. At the same time, colder outside air enters near the floor. Oikos Green Building Source
Negative and positive pressures Wind forces operate as you might think. On the side facing the wind (windward), positive pressure forces air into the building. On the other side (leeward), wind passing around the house creates negative pressure, which pulls air out of the building. Wind effects vary with local shielding and terrain conditions at the site. A building at an exposed site may have wind-induced air leakage three to four times as large a more protected building.
BTU Loss and Heat Retention Studies by the Corbond Corporation COMPARECLOSED CELLFIBERGLASSCLOSED CELL 68 degrees interior 2x4 wall2x6 wall2x6wall 18 degrees exterior 296 BTU/HR295 BTU/HR135 BTU/HR NO WIND 18 degrees exterior 350 BTU/HR790 BTU/HR150 BTU/HR 15 MPH WIND -25 degrees exterior 576 BTU/HR763 BTU/HR273 BTU/HR NO WIND -15 degrees exterior 654 BTU/HR1461 BTU/HR324 BTU/HR
Mold, Mildews and the such... The last word a contractor wants to hear….MOLD. Mold in buildings is an ambulance chasers dream. SPEC- Foam insulation will not support mold growth. Air contains water vapor. When infiltrating or exfiltrating water vapor is cooled to dew point, condensation occurs and vapor will accumulate to form water droplets. Vapor migrates from higher absolute humidity to lower absolute humidity. Vapor barriers only increase the likely hood of condensation and a provides a perfect breeding ground for MOLD. Only in regions with annual directional vapor drives can a vapor barrier be installed on the proper side. Mixed regions should never have a vapor barrier installed.
Mold, Mildews and the such…. SPEC Foam insulation is an excellent air barrier. Gaco Foam eliminates air infiltration, exfiltration, wind wash and heat loads. Because there is isolation between the two temperature gradients, dew point is never reached and water droplets never form. MOLD CANNOT GROW!!! Gaco Foam insulation will not rot, corrode, or degrade over time. Mechanical leaks such as windows or roof leaks will not affect the performance of Gaco Foam insulation and will cure to dry after the mechanical breach has been repaired. On occasion Gaco Foam has eliminated water migration into a structure and protected important internal properties.
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