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Installing High-Performance Windows

My complements to the European high-performance window manufacturers for providing built-in sills for their windows. I hope that North American high-performance window manufacturers soon provide built-in sills. The built-in sills, along with block-frame window installation, sure simplify installing high-performance windows in superinsulated walls. American builders have tried dozens of different procedures to install nail-fin windows[…]Read more

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10 Major Energy Retrofits

The best time to make major energy retrofits (also called deep energy retrofits) is during a renovation. This is when you’re making major changes to the building, and probably getting a building permit. Ideally, the house will be vacant during this process. Here are 10 major energy retrofits that should be part of every home renovation job. 10 Major Energy[…]Read more

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Flood Recovery and Renovation

Dry and Decontaminate Quickly Flood recovery begins with drying and decontaminating the home as quickly as possible after the flood recedes. Materials like carpet, sheetrock, ceiling tile, insulation, and fiberglass ducts are almost never salvageable because you can’t decontaminate them. Begin by removing these wet materials. If the flood submerged the interior, cut a horizontal line at least 12 inches[…]Read more

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Adult-Learning Experiments – 10 Findings

A Collection of Adult-Learning Research Results The book, Building Expertise by Ruth Colvin-Clark, offers one of the best summaries of adult-learning (pedagogy) research available. Like so many fields adult-learning pedagogy is hindered by dubious assumptions and outdated traditions. Ms. Colvin-Clark challenges these old models with recent research about how students, and especially adults, learn. Building Expertise is based[…]Read more

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Rainscreens and drainage planes

Building assemblies can get wet Building scientists assume that some rainwater leaks through the cladding or roofing and that water vapor migrates through insulated building assemblies, sometimes condensing within those cavities. These two phenomena both can dampen building assemblies. What are rainscreens? Builders often provide a 3/4-inch air space between siding and the water resistive barrier (WRB) as[…]Read more

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Possibilities for Wetting of Cellulose Insulation Part 2

Relative Humidity, Temperature, and Moisture Content This is Part 2 of a two-part series on cellulose insulation and moisture. Cellulose insulation is a hydrophilic material, meaning that absorbs moisture readily. Under certain conditions condensation dampens cellulose insulation causing permanent damage due to shrinking, slumping, and very slow drying. Moisture adsorption into a hydrophilic material, expressed as[…]Read more

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Air and Water Barriers

Old and new water barriers Once upon a time, builders stapled 15-pound asphalt felt to wall and roof structural sheathing as a water-resistive barrier (WRB). The 2012 International Residential Code (IRC) still specifies: “one layer of No. 15 felt… or other approved water-resistive barrier.” Most builders used perforated felt to allow water vapor to escape[…]Read more

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Hygric Buffering & Cellulose Wall Insulation

This is a two-part blog about hygric buffering, cellulose wall insulation, and moisture problems in high-performance buildings. Why not to install cellulose insulation in deep wall cavities Cellulose shrinks, slumps, and dries very slowly after wetting. Deep wall cavities are have more risk because the outdoor side of the wall is colder than shallower cavities. Voids left by[…]Read more