Building Science-Address Moisture Before Energy Improvements

*This post first appeared on the Green Building Advisor website.

In the typical year, I’m in about 100 homes conducting energy audits and assessments, many of the homes are older.  The work I do is to help a customer form a plan to deal with their high energy costs in operating the home, in my area, that is usually heating related.  The first thing most homeowners will look to do is add insulation or air seal the building.  Those steps will improve the cost to operate the home, but the changes may have a detrimental effect in other areas.  Before we form a plan to air seal and insulated, there are other considerations that must be addressed. Continue reading “Building Science-Address Moisture Before Energy Improvements”

Shorts-Fine Homebuilding Magazine Content

Several of the posts on my blog were first published on the website Green Building Advisor.  I’ve enjoyed writing for them, but my hope has been to get an article in their sister publication, Fine Homebuilding Magazine.  In issue #304, December 2021/January 2022, that finally happened.  Funny thing is, I didn’t get just one article published, I have two plus a tool review, oh, and I’m on the cover.

Continue reading “Shorts-Fine Homebuilding Magazine Content”

Building Science-Three Way Buildings Leak Air

I have talked many times about blower door testing, air sealing and air leaks in this blog, on the Green Building Advisor’s website, and more recently, in the pages of Fine Homebuilding Magazine.  Most of what I’ve written deals with testing a home or techniques used in air sealing a home.  This time I’m going to discuss the mechanisms that cause air to leak, there are only three of them, but first a little science. Continue reading “Building Science-Three Way Buildings Leak Air”

Construction Design-Closed Cell Spray Foam Below a Slab

This post originally appeared on GreenBuildingAdvisor – Green Building Advisor is the one-stop source for builders, remodelers, architects & homeowners looking for expert advice on green products, strategies & proven construction details.

I was introduced to using closed cell spray foam (CCSF) below a slab a few years ago by New England contractor Wade Paquin of WKP Construction. He was insulating the below grade slabs of his new homes by spraying a couple inches over a bed of stone, then pouring the concrete. I have now had the opportunity to try this insulation method over a couple projects, Continue reading “Construction Design-Closed Cell Spray Foam Below a Slab”

Building Science-A Benefit of Exterior Insulation

I’m a big fan of exterior insulation.  It’s rarely used in my area, mostly because the State of Minnesota has eliminated that code requirement.  It has to to with our wide use of polyethylene sheeting as a vapor retarder on the warm in winter side of a wall assembly and then adding a low permeance plastic insulation product as exterior insulation.  These plastic foams would be the choice for most contractors, lower cost and easy to source.  Very slow vapor movement in either direction when a wall assembly becomes wet.  This posting isn’t going to get into the foam insulations, but more into what exterior insulation can do for a home. Continue reading “Building Science-A Benefit of Exterior Insulation”

Mechanicals-Electrification of Heating Systems

Did you know, there are a few areas in the country where a homeowner no longer has the option to hook to a gas line when building a new home?  These communities have banned all gas installations in new construction.  A growing trend or community overreach?  Time will tell.  That said, I’ve been hearing a lot of noise lately about electrification in new construction.  Homeowners and builders are giving some consideration on how to condition, that is heat a home using only electricity as the fuel source.
Can this be an effective option in a cold or very cold climate?  Continue reading “Mechanicals-Electrification of Heating Systems”