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A Handyman Helping Hand

Re: new home question

Posted By: Joe
Saturday, 19 May 2001, at 2:05 p.m.

In Response To: new home question (Jane)

Housewrap CAN be done by a handy hoeowner, but most CONTRACTORS istall it improperly so you had better do a lot of research before you do.

Improperly applied housewrap iis useless. It will not create the benefit it was designed to do.

Properly installed housewrap includes stapling the fabric in the specified pattern as per manufacturer's instructions....Taping all seams as per manufacturers instruction and with their specialty tape....

But here is where it gets complicated. For housewrap to be properly installed one must seal up every orifice in every stud, every plate, and between every floor where any wires, cables, ducts, registers, pipes, chases, raceways, or any other object passes.

The reason is that one must create a completely sealed off environment inside the house from without or the fabric becomes useless....and your money is wasted.

Housewrap is designed as an air barrier. Failing to seal all air leaks beween studs and floors and especially between living space and attics or crawlspaces totally defeats the design puropse.

Housewrap works on the principal that the orifices in the fabric itself are small enough to prevent large O2 molecules from passing thru while allowig smaller H@O molecules to pass.

Housewrap is designed basically for northern climes where interior winter temperatures (and thus humidities) are greater inside than out. This creates a natural pressure as well as molecular imbalance between inside and outside vapor. The result is a natural tendancy for moisture from the inside of the house to flow toward the outside of the house. However, if this flow is too fast, condensation occurs in colder stud cavities causing water damage to framing members.

Housewrap is designed to CONTROL the flow in such a fashon that condensaion cannot 'suddenly' occur.

Holes in studs bypass this ability to control the vapor flow into attics and stud spaces and acts like a firehouse by concentrating unwanted vapor into these areas.

Failure to properly applythe wrap only leads to condensation occuring on the BACKSIDE of the wrap, holding condensed water against plywood or OSB sheathing significantly reducing their lifespan.

Few contractors practice proper installation technique....Most do not understand proper installaton technique...let alone the weekend handyman.

Housewraps cannot be used in conjunction with foam insulation boards or foam backers of any kind.

Housewraps cannot be used in warm humid climates since the reverse direction of vapor flow from out to in occurs in summer...Hot outside. AC inside...Vapor flows in and condenses.

The industry standard for years, and achieving the same if not better results, has been builder paper. Cheap affordable builder paper.

After researching the housewrap question for YEARS with engineers, architects, and other building professionals, I remain completely unconvinced of its necessity or efficaciousness in solving the problems it puroports to solve.

It is still my opinion that housewrap is an advertising gimmick thought up by the manufacturers and swallowed like buzz bait by the unknowing public.

You want to use it? Be my Guest. It is your money. Those of us in the know don't.

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