The Solution to Increased Moisture in Tight Buildings

Moisture Control in BuildingsWe all want leak-free, energy-efficient buildings. But contemporary builders face challenges that are unique to the technology of our era.

In earlier eras, buildings were made of stone and held together with a bonding material. They were resistant to the damaging effects of moisture and a high capacity to store moisture. In more recent times, buildings dried out very well because they had little vapor resistance, little moisture storage capacity, poor insulation, and lots of air leakage.

The enclosure or envelope is the part of a building that separates the interior of a building from the exterior. It protects the building from external elements, and conserves energy by preserving the interior environment. It regulates air flow, thermal-flow, and moisture flow.

Controlling Moisture Generated from Interior Sources

Now, we build amazing, energy-efficient buildings that are a lot more comfortable to live in. The air quality, air flow, heat retention, and ventilation has improved, while sound and odor penetration from the exterior environment has decreased. Paradoxically, these buildings increase the necessity of controlling moisture generated from interior sources.

As building envelopes become more effective, they raise the potential humidity and condensation levels in the interior environment. Any water use inside the building generates water vapor that can collect in the enclosure, where the temperature and humidity differentials may cause it to change states. The water might become liquid and flow into inconvenient, hard-to-drain places, or it might condense and freeze due to a high temperature differential, creating a problem when the seasons change.

Another Worry – Mold Growth

Another worry with any building is mold growth. Mold spores are present not only in finished buildings, but also on construction materials. Buildings are typically home to around two hundred different types of mold in high concentrations. An increase in humidity or temperature speeds up the rate of mold growth, which leads to health hazards and damage to building components.

The clear solution is to develop an enclosure that can cope with interior and exterior stresses in an efficient, effective way. Any reduction in the overall moisture load will ameliorate the situation. It’s important to choose an enclosure design that is right for the climate, estimated moisture load, and building type (since larger commercial buildings differ from smaller ones, which may have more in common with residential buildings).

Managing Moisture From Exterior Sources

Managing moisture from exterior sources has always been a challenge. Even with technological advances, water can get into a building through incorrect flashing details, imperfections or oversights in the building’s construction, and penetrations. The water can come from many different sources, including rain, water vapor, built-in moisture, or ground moisture.

High performance membrane systems work together to alleviate some of the moisture generated from major sources, and to ensure that water in the enclosure, no matter its origin, can be dealt with.

No one wants moldy, structurally compromised, or uncomfortable buildings. Given the consequences, contemporary architects and contractors should definitely use building technology and designs that reduce moisture-based stress on buildings.