Weatherization and Renewable Energy Course

This is a snippet from our Weatherization and Renewable Energy Course - Purchase the course for AIA & State Credit

Thermal and Moisture Protection

Most construction claims result from a failure of the building envelope or shell caused by poor design or construction. Often, damage is caused  by contractors and laborers while maintaining or erecting residential and commercial structures. Unfortunately, the original building plans or original design may lack sufficient detail to prevent exterior shell failure.

Workers often fail to assemble structures in accordance with properly written plans. Too often, workers are uneducated about proper construction of building systems and the use of materials per the manufacturer’s recommendations and reasonable “best practices” for construction of homes and buildings in coastal, mountainous or areas with relatively high humidity. Thermal and moisture protection is the entire country’s problem!

Occasionally, construction workers inadvertently damage the building envelope while maintaining or working on items not directly related to the building exterior, causing it to be compromised and fail over the course of time. The time it takes for an “EXTERIOR SHELL” mistake to cause noticeable damage can take from only a few days to several years. At times, repairs may cost more than the building is worth!

Unfortunately, most workers and contractors of new homes rarely get to see, first hand, the mistakes they’ve made. It usually takes a period of time before the building shell failure becomes evident. Often, the failure happens after the original warranty has expired and the repairs are then the responsibility of the disgruntled home-owner who feels compelled to hire a different contractor!

Improper design, construction application and inadvertent damage can all compromise the exterior shell of a structure and result in immediate or delayed building envelope failure. Building shell failures often result in water being allowed to enter the structure in a manner that is contrary to the intended design. Water must be forced to the exterior of the envelope by weep holes or ventilation.  Delayed failure is almost always more expensive to remedy!

Primary claims.  Water, whether liquid or vapor, when allowed to enter the building shell can cause a host of problems. Warranty and insurance claims result from:

•  Damage to exterior systems and structure
•  Failure due to rot
•  Damaged, unrelated components that are not part of the building envelope
•  Mold

In areas prone to damage by water and water vapor, programs are often available to provide weatherization and energy conservation services at no cost to households with relatively low median income. Primary funding for these programs is from the U.S. Department of Energy with other funds from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, utility companies and local entities like Community Action or Habitat for Humanity... Yes...there is program assistance for those who need it, but remember assistance still costs taxpayers. In the long run, everybody pays!

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Thermal and Moisture: Keeping the Weather Out

This course is based on the 2017 Florida Building codes and is approved by the AIA for a 1-hour credit. This course will focus on the “best practice” procedures to carefully plan and install thermal and weather resistant components.

The objectives of this course include:

  • Summarize the key elements (either natural or mechanical) of a properly ventilated structure.
  • List and describe at least 3 specific installation techniques and/or materials that contribute to a properly constructed roof system.
  • Outline at least one design strategy based on “best practices” for the construction of buildings in areas with high humidity.
  • Identify and implement proven methods that will effectively divert moisture from the foundation of a structure.

Here is a course excerpt on moisture protection for windows and doors:

Improperly flashed window and door openings are one of the most common mistakes made by contractors. This causes moisture to get into the wall, causing mold, mildew, and eventually, rot. A major reason for the mistakes made while installing windows and doors is that not every situation is the same.

Such as:

  • Is the house wrap installed yet?
  • Does the unit recess into the wall?
  • Does the unit install with a flange?

Proper window and door installation preserve the integrity of the building envelope.  Window and door rough opening sides should have the house wrap folded around and into the opening. The side flanges or brick molding will counter flash the sides of the opening and can be sealed with caulking or butyl tape. The top edge of the house wrap should be cut even with the rough opening and temporarily pinned or held up and out of the way of the window or door top flange.  If the window or door has an integral or well sealed top flange, it can serve as the window or door head flashing!

Windows with molded or integral top flanges don’t usually need additional head flashings. However, windows and doors NEED HEAD FLASHING!!! A metal or vinyl flashing (z-metal) installed on the top edge of the unit serves to positively divert any water to the exterior of the unit. The loose layer of house wrap can then be spot tacked with tape or fasteners over the head flashing. Remember:  Before installing the trims around the window or door apply enough caulk at the ends of the z-metal flashing to create a “dam”, which will keep water from running off the ends of the flashing and down the sides of the unit behind the side trims.