Water is essential for human life, but for buildings it can be a contributing factor to an early deterioration. When moist air hits a cooler surface within a wall structure, water vapor in the air can condense and collect inside these spaces. This moisture can then be absorbed in various building materials and cause a host of serious structural problems.
Wet wooden framing or sheathing can rot and break down, dramatically diminishing its strength. Steel structural members can become oxidized, rusting and gradually losing their integrity.
One important way to minimize the damage potential of condensation is by effectively managing the flow of air into and out of the building. A properly installed, continuous air barrier minimizes air leakage, which, in turn, help minimize the potential for water vapor to condense on vulnerable wall structures.
A U.S. study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology found that reducing air infiltration with a continuous air barrier reduced energy usage by up to 36%. Energy savings of this magnitude translate into significant cost savings, especially in regions where heating seasons are long and energy sources are expensive. Air barriers may also help increase the value of commercial buildings by reducing operating costs—a return on investment every business can appreciate.
Net zero building design and air leakage
An increasing number of homeowners and organizations concerned about reducing their carbon footprint are working to achieve that elusive goal. Minimizing air leakage and careful design of the building envelope is critically important for achieving net-zero energy consumption. Other important elements include insulation that exceeds energy code requirements; water and moisture control; siting to benefit from solar, wind or hydro power sources; and high-efficiency mechanical equipment and lighting.
Indoor air quality
Mold is an all-too-common occurrence in buildings where moist air accumulates on vulnerable wall components, including insulation, exterior sheathing or interior wall boards. This can have dramatic impact on indoor air quality and occupant health.
Air leakage is a major cause of moisture intrusion, setting up the conditions for mold growth. A properly installed, continuous air barrier can minimize this leakage and dramatically reduce moisture intrusion through wall structures. The goal is to deny the outside air—and the moisture it contains—any point of entry.
A new generation of vapor permeable fluid-applied air barriers offers early rain resistance. Soon after application, the membrane can withstand a light rain, preserving your investment in time, labor and material. As the fluid is applied, a chemical reaction occurs that begins curing the material rapidly, resulting in light rain resistance.
Rain-resistant air barriers are particularly valuable for use in climates where rain is a constant companion—from the Pacific Northwest to the East coast. But even in less extreme climates, rain can threaten project schedules. Using a rain-resistant air barrier may help avoid financial liabilities due to project delays, which means one less potential problem to worry about.