Energy Conservation-Shallow Energy Retrofit

This post originally appeared on the Green Building Advisor website.

Several years ago, I performed a roof replacement for a customer, the customer wanted to change their older and failing asphalt shingled roof to a steel roof.  We stripped the old shingles and existing underlayment off, installed new synthetic underlayment and new steel over the 10/12 pitched roof.  I felt confident that this new roof would last many years.

The following year, the same customer asked if we would replace several windows in the upper level of his story and a half home.  The old windows were due for replacement, the single paned wood units appeared to be from the mid-1900’s.  Woodpeckers had pecked a hole nearly completely through one of the windows.  Several others were painted shut.  Again, a straight-forward job we had done dozens of times before.

The home with the roofing and window replacement that resulted in “attic rain”.

The spring after the window replacement, I received a call from the customer saying his roof was leaking.  He had water dripping in several areas in the upper level of the home.  A visit to his house did indeed show water damage, though it was not the result of a bulk water leak from the roof, but instead, air leaks from the interior had formed frost on the attic side of the roof sheathing, the home had never had this issue before.  I surmised that replacing the five upper-level windows had changed how this home handled air and moisture just enough to cause frost to form in the attic.  My first building science lesson about the unintentional effects of a shallow energy retrofit. Continue reading “Energy Conservation-Shallow Energy Retrofit”

Rockwool-Not Your 1950’s Mineral Wool Insulation

This post first appeared on the Rockwool R-Class blog.

If you’ve been in the construction industry long enough, chances are you’ve had to remove an old mineral wool insulation product during a renovation.  I know I have.  It’s itchy, easily falls apart, and it often doesn’t completely fill a cavity bay.  I’ve had many conversations with other builders who will not consider using a mineral wool product because of their past experiences with the older mineral wool insulations.  I can tell you; the old stuff is nothing like modern stone wool.

Itchy, fragile, and does not fill an entire 2×4 cavity bay. This R-7 batt of mineral wool insulation from the 1950’s is much different than the modern stone wool equivalent.

Continue reading “Rockwool-Not Your 1950’s Mineral Wool Insulation”

Construction Materials-A Less Common Sheathing

This post first appeared on the Green Building Advisor’s website.

When I first started working in the trades as an electrician back in the mid 1990’s, we worked for a couple contractors that liked to use buffalo board sheathing.  I suspect the product was given this name because of its resemblance to buffalo chips.  (If you don’t know what a buffalo chip is, you’ll have to look it up, it’s not the kind of chip you eat.)  I’ve heard it called several other names, bildrite, beaver board, brickboard, bagasse, but it is best known as fiberboard sheathing.

Continue reading “Construction Materials-A Less Common Sheathing”