Field study of moisture damage in walls insulated without a vapor barrier. Final report for the Oregon Department of Energy

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Considerable uncertainty has existed over whether or not wall insulation installed without a vapor barrier causes an increased risk of moisture damage (wood decay) within walls. This report describes the results of one of the first major studies in the country aimed at finding out if such a moisture problem really exists. The exterior walls of a total of 96 homes in Portland, Oregon were opened, of which 70 had retrofitted insulation and 26 were uninsulated and were a control group. The types of insulation included urea-formaldehyde foam (44), mineral wool (16), and cellulose (10). In each opened wall cavity ... continued below

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Pages: 124

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Tsongas, G.A. May 1, 1980.

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Description

Considerable uncertainty has existed over whether or not wall insulation installed without a vapor barrier causes an increased risk of moisture damage (wood decay) within walls. This report describes the results of one of the first major studies in the country aimed at finding out if such a moisture problem really exists. The exterior walls of a total of 96 homes in Portland, Oregon were opened, of which 70 had retrofitted insulation and 26 were uninsulated and were a control group. The types of insulation included urea-formaldehyde foam (44), mineral wool (16), and cellulose (10). In each opened wall cavity the moisture content of wood was measured and insulation and wood samples were taken for laboratory analysis of moisture content and for the determination of the presence of absence of decay fungi. Foam shrinkage was also measured. To evaluate the possible influence of the relative air tightness of the homes, fan depressurization tests were run using a door blower unit. The field and laboratory test results indicating the lack of a moisture damage problem in existing homes with wood siding in climates similar to that of western Oregon are described along with results of a statistical analysis of the data. Related problems of interest to homeowners and insulation installers are noted. The standard operating procedures used throughout the study are discussed, including the home selection process, quantitative and qualitative techniques used to identify wall locations with the highest moisture content, wall opening and data/sample collection methodology, laboratory analysis of samples, data processing and analysis, and applicability of the results. Recommendations for furutre tests are made. Finally, the potential and desirability for future retrofitting of wall insulation is explored.

Physical Description

Pages: 124

Notes

Dep. NTIS, PC A06/MF A01.

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  • Report No.: ORNL/Sub-78/97726/1
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-26
  • DOI: 10.2172/5376436 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 5376436
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc1063882

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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Creation Date

  • May 1, 1980

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Feb. 4, 2018, 10:51 a.m.

Description Last Updated

  • March 28, 2018, 1:48 p.m.

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Tsongas, G.A. Field study of moisture damage in walls insulated without a vapor barrier. Final report for the Oregon Department of Energy, report, May 1, 1980; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1063882/: accessed June 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.