The Barriers that Protect Your Home: Water, Vapor and Air

In home construction there are three barriers that can be critical to preserving the integrity of your property over its lifespan: water, vapor and air. Knowing the difference between the three will help you choose the best products and applications to ensure that your home is energy efficient, comfortable and structurally sound for years to come.

According to the Air Barrier Association of America, air barriers, vapor barriers and water barriers each have a different function to perform in a building assembly. Air Barriers “stop movement of air into or out of a conditioned space”. Materials that prevent such movement are measured in factors “air permeance”, with a lower number indicating that a material is a better barrier than a higher number.

Vapor Barriers “slow or reduce the movement of water vapor through a material.” Vapor barrier materials are installed on the warm side of a wall assembly, most often determined by your climate. In warm climates, for example, the barrier is installed on the outside of a building and in cold climates it is installed on the inside.

Water Resistive Barriers are installed on the outside of a building and are intended to prevent bulk water leakage through and into a building’s sheathing or concrete walls and into their wall assembly. The most effective water resistive barriers are usually installed in the form of a membrane or covering fastened to the outside of the home (before finishing siding or exterior covering is installed).

Spray Foam Insulation is recommended to prevent the leakage of both air and vapor into and out of your conditioned home. By stopping this exchange, you protect your property from the damaging effects of moisture that can seep into your building materials, and you can also increase the efficiency of your HVAC system creating a more comfortable, energy efficient environment and lower utility bills. Paired with a good water resistive barrier, air and vapor barriers can substantially extend the lifespan of your building materials and the overall quality and value of your home over time.

When planning your new build or remodel, don’t forget to address your particular air, vapor and water barrier needs. If you want to learn more about the types of barriers that can help keep your home safe and comfortable, contact Atlantic Spray Systems, Inc. today and we’ll be happy to review your options with you!

Are You Losing Money Through the Roof?

Welcome winter weather! All over Virginia, homeowners are starting to turn on heater systems and preparing for cold days ahead. No matter how old or new your home is, if your attic is not properly insulated, you are quite literally losing money through your roof!

Fiberglass insulation provides a minimum standard of protection from heat loss and air transfer. It has a limited lifespan and should be replaced approximately every ten years. It does not conform to the spaces where it is installed, leaving gaps and spaces where air can creep in (and out).

Electricity prices are at a premium these days and most homeowners would prefer to avoid sending their precious heat out into the world. An expert application of spray foam insulation seals attic spaces and carries a lifetime warranty. The result is lower heating bills and more comfortable living spaces.

If the idea of spending less for better results is appealing to you, contact Atlantic Spray Systems, Inc. today to schedule a visual check of your attic and crawl spaces. We’ll be happy to give you a general estimate and address all of your insulation and weatherization concerns. Call us today!

Guest Post: Controlling Air Infiltration

Today, we are pleased to feature a guest post by Jeff Fisher of JH Fisher Construction, Inc. Thank you Jeff for your insight!

Have you ever been in a home and noticed air blowing through the power receptacles on the walls? What you experienced is a symptom of the failure to control air infiltration during construction or repair.

While basic insulation of walls tremendously slows the rate of temperature transfer, there are many specific points that need to be inspected and covered that frequently are not. Some contractors will leave holes in your plywood sheathing assuming that the gaps will be covered by Tyvek house wrap and siding – these penetrations create weak points, however, and must be repaired. The plywood exterior should be complete with no voids into the frame.

There are other measures you can take to ensure that you are ideally controlling air infiltration. When house wrap is installed, make sure it is done per recommendations. There needs to be sufficient overlap and it must be taped properly with house wrap tape. Not taping may not create leaks, but it will allow for air infiltration.

You also need to choose the right insulation contractor. Select the one who will inspect to ensure that your home was properly sealed originally and who pays close attention to any window and door openings, utility pipes, and receptacles, holes through the top and bottom plates of the wall framing and penetrations through walls. Choose the contractor who will manually inspect to confirm that all possible weaknesses are addressed, ensuring that your home will not suffer the damaging and uncomfortable effects of air infiltration.

Jeff Fisher is a third-generation woodworker and owner of JH Fisher Construction, Inc.