Radio Joe and the Z-man – Using Building Science & EPA’s Moisture Control Guide to Improve Indoor Air!

Air Date: 3-16-2018|Episode 497

Today Radio Joe and the Z-man will be discussing how to solve indoor environmental quality problems by using building science fundamentals and the “EPA Moisture Control Guide”. To get at the root of IEQ problems you must understand buildings and building science. Today we will discuss some great information from people like Joe Lstiburek, Terry Brennan, Bill Rose, Mike McGuinness and Lew Harriman. We start with an overview of building science concepts that will help you solve problems.

Full Description:

Today Radio Joe and the Z-man will be discussing how to solve indoor environmental quality problems by using building science fundamentals and the “EPA Moisture Control Guide”. To get at the root of IEQ problems you must understand buildings and building science. Today we will discuss some great information from people like Joe Lstiburek, Terry Brennan, Bill Rose, Mike McGuinness and Lew Harriman. We start with an overview of building science concepts that will help you solve problems.

Our foundation will be the 4 P’s (people, pollutant, pathway, pressurization). From there we will go into how to use the wealth of information in the EPA “Moisture Control Guide” and then go through some case studies. On a future show we will get into how to include the information in your reports.

Joe’s Blog:

All Wet!
Last week we did an episode we called “Using Building Science and the EPA Moisture Control Guide to solve IAQ Problems”. It will also be used in our online training for Indoor Environmentalists. Much of the information presented came from writings, interviews and presentations by the following people:

Building Science Research Documents Referenced included:

 Radio Joe’s tips for selecting an Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) 
  • Must know building science
  • Focus on root cause of the issue
  • Doesn’t immediately want to sample
  • Has a network of other professionals
  • Look for IAQA membership and ACAC certification, not a guarantee but it helps
  • Get references and call them
What is building science?
According to Joe Lstiburek: “Term used to describe the study of building enclosures and mechanical systems.” “Missing link between architecture and engineering.”
Andy Ask:  Wrote a great article called HARM. It discusses the things that hurt our buildings.
  • Heat, Air, Radiation, Moisture.
    • Heat can affect things like off-gassing VOCs
    • Air issues include things like stack effect, wind, air leakage
    • Radiation adds heat and degrades some building materials.
  • Andy Ask: HVAC & Building Science are Inextricably Linked
The Four P’s of IAQ Investigation!
 
Climate Zones
  • Hot Humid, Mixed Humid, Cold, Hot Dry, Very Cold
  • Different types of foundations are common in different climates. (Slab on grade, Crawl space, Basement, Conditioned crawl spaces)

Average Rainfall & Precipitation
  • Importance of drainage! Drain the Rain from the Planes down and away from the building.

 

A great article on why we seem to have more problems with buildings today than in the past”
  • Increased thermal resistance
  • Changes in the permeability of linings
  • Moisture & mold sensitivity of building materials
  • Ability to store and redistribute moisture.
  • 3 dimensional airflow networks.
Ventilation Blues- build tight and ventilate right. This is easier said than done. Ventilation is an issue we could talk about for days. See the show we did with
Basics of water behavior (EPA)
  •  Water runs through pipes and vessels.
  •  Water runs downhill.
  •  Water wicks upwards.
  •  Water runs along the bottom or sides of materials.
  •  Water vapor in the air goes where the air goes.
  •  Water vapor migrates through materials by diffusion.
  •  Water evaporates from liquid water on surfaces, becoming water vapor.
  •  Water vapor condenses on a surface, becoming liquid.
  •  Water vapor is adsorbed onto surfaces.      
Drain the rain
  • Great graphics and details in the EPA Moisture Control Guide. Your tax dollars paid for it, you should use it! Put it right in your reports!!

Drain Everything down & out
  • Roofing, doors, windows, decks, stone all must be flashed properly and drained.

Control layers
 
The Moisture Control Guide puts a lot of focus on evaluating control layers to help solve moisture problems.
They categorize the control layers as follows:
  • Rain water control
  • Insulation layer
  • Air barrier
EPA Pen Test
  • Trace the water control layer, should be unbroken,
  • Trace the insulation layer, should be unbroken.
  • Trace the air barrier should be unbroken
Radio Joe’s experience is:
  • It’s difficult to properly insulate and air seal around structural steel members. This is a common area for breaks in the control layers.
  • Finding out what is in there often times requires invasive inspection.
  • The document doesn’t include use of the term vapor barrier as one of the control layers. Vapor barriers are commonly unintentional.
EPA Basement construction details
  • Soil should be below flashing. It is common on older buildings that over time the landscaping has gotten too high up on the wall.
  • Evaluate how the building/home you are working on was built and then try to get as close to what EPA recommends as possible. Use their details in your reports. They are well done, current and state of the art!!

 

EPA Wall section detail from slide

Window flashing detail from slide

You rarely if ever see existing windows with all these details. Again get your building as close as you can to this when you evaluate and fix moisture issues.

Case Study

Radio Joe went over a friend’s residential moisture/mold project as a case study for solving moisture problems. As is commonly the case the mold in this home came from a combination of moisture issues that led to a tipping point.

  • Ice damming
  • No gutters and downspouts permitted
  • Missing and poorly maintained roof diverters
  • No kick out flashing
  • No flashing at siding/stone interface
  • Plastic vapor barrier on basement walls
  • Below slab ductwork
  • Poor maintenance of the site drainage system
Cladding transition slide
 
If you did not do the proper investigation you would assume the basement foundation wall was leaking down by the footer. The real issue was more complex and involved multiple moisture issues.
  • Not a foundation issue, the problem was caused by water from above
  • The main issue was lack of flashing at the interface of the stone and siding
  • Moisture ran behind closed cell spray foam in the basement
  • Ice damning, clogged drains and more all contributed
Odor problem Project
Discussion on how we used the 4 P’s to help the owner understand how the improperly dumped paint/solvent lead to the IAQ/odor issue.
Radio Joe Over and Out!
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