Modern building design and construction can be complicated, but it has one basic goal: keeping the outside out and the inside in. This simple idea is at the heart of building envelope science, which is all about managing the flow of air and moisture in and out of a structure.
Poorly managed air and moisture flow can reduce building energy efficiency, but it’s moisture intrusion that can cause serious structural and legal issues. In fact, industry data shows that 69% of construction litigation is associated with moisture-related defects in building envelope systems. What’s more, 53% of all those defects are caused by faulty installation.1
Moisture intrusion matters
Moisture that gets past the building envelope can damage a structure’s durability, appearance, and functionality. Moisture intrusion can cause a range of costly problems for building designers, contractors, owners, and occupants. Common results include:
- Rot and structural failure
- Mold and “sick” buildings
- Costly call-backs and repairs
- Lawsuits and ruined reputations
- Rental income losses during remediation
Clearly, it’s in the best interests of everyone involved to keep unwanted moisture out of the building. The good news is that modern building envelope science makes it possible, but project teams must focus on two essential elements:
The right materials and installation methods
Selecting the optimal building envelope materials to stop moisture intrusion demands a careful look at several project specifics – everything from costs to cladding. Local climate considerations are especially important.
For example, in hot, humid climates, air infiltration may be the dominant source of moisture in air-conditioned buildings. In such locations, methods to prevent water vapor migration and subsequent condensation inside wall cavities and building interiors include:
- Selecting wall insulation that meets ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2004, Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings
- Installing materials with low vapor permeability to the warm side of the thermal layer
- Designing walls to dry to the interior, exterior, or both1
Climate-driven design choices are important, but whatever the design and materials, they must be installed properly and be chemically compatible. Ensuring this can be more challenging than it sounds, especially if installers are using different building envelope products from different manufacturers.
Resources to help you choose the right solution
Ultimately, a project team’s reputation rides on the longevity of the structure and its building envelope performance. Henry Company has the expertise and the resources to help you make all the right choices.
Whether it’s an air barrier system or a waterproofing system for an above or below-grade application, Henry is your one-stop-shop for installation-compatible system solutions. Before your next project begins, here are some resources to help your team avoid moisture-related challenges:
Air Barrier Systems
Guide: Air Barrier Essentials Guide – Discover more about air barrier basics, building envelope design principles, and building code requirements.
Air Barrier Selection Chart – Find the right air barrier technology for your next project with this simple selection chart.
Waterproofing Selection Chart – Whether you need an above or below-grade waterproofing system, this chart can help you find a solution to meet your requirements.
1 Grosskopf, K.R. et al. “Preventing Defect Claims in Hot, Humid Climates.” ASHRAE Journal, July 2008, pp. 40‒52.
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