November 14, 2018 AsktheBuilder Newsletter
Are you new around these parts? Welcome, pardner!
Have you been watering your horse here for some time? You know the rules, be nice to people and think of yourself last.
This is a somewhat strange newsletter.
The inspiration for today's newsletter came from this photo:
You may wonder what the tall poles are all about. Look closely and you'll notice there's no siding on the house. Those poles are used by siding contractors to hold their pump jacks.
This home was built in 2012 along the NJ shore after Hurricane Sandi. The original builder completely goofed up the fiber cement siding that days ago was dumped in a local landfill.
The homeowner reached out to me three days ago because late last week the remodeling contractor hired to reside the house installed a modern air and water infiltration barrier OVER top of traditional asphalt-impregnated felt paper installed back in 2012.
For eight years the homeowners had never had odor issues in the house. But this weekend when they came up to inspect the work they smelled a distinct petroleum odor in the home.
One thing led to another and there was a frantic email in my Inbox just before midnight last Saturday.
I did a 30-minute phone consult with the homeowners on Monday and then a follow-up one yesterday for 90 minutes.
Yesterday's call had the remodeler and a factory rep on the call. The factory rep was for the company that makes the modern air barrier the remodeler installed.
The remodeler, the factory rep and three top builders that work along the NJ shore that are friends with the remodeler all said they see no issues installing the modern air barrier over the tar paper.
I DISAGREED. I decided to create a new column to drive home the point.
CLICK HERE to read my brand new column. It's VITAL that you at least SKIM IT. My new column could save you TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars.
The bottom line is the modern air barrier over the top of the felt paper is now causing the felt paper to act like a vapor RETARDER. That's VERY BAD.
You don't want a vapor retarder on the outside of your home unless you live down south where you're trying to BLOCK outside muggy air from getting indoors where your AC is making your inside walls COLD.
$10 Stocking Stuffer!
I told you each week I was going to try to find a great stocking stuffer for you for Christmas. Well, I really have a great one for you this week to make up for going over budget last week.
I'm pretty certain you'll be ordering MORE THAN ONE of these so ORDER FAST in case they run out. CLICK HERE to see more photos and to ORDER.
If you're a new subscriber here's the previous weeks Christmas stocking-stuffer ideas. The LED headlamp has been a HUGE HIT. You may be one of the hundreds of people who have ordered this bad boy:
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Old vs New Homes
You may find this interesting.
During the conference call yesterday with the NJ remodeler and the factory rep from the major manufacturer, I shared some information that I discovered before both of them were born!
Did you ever read J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy?
One of his best quotes, in my opinion, applies to many things in life.
“And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the ring passed out of all knowledge.”
I'm seeing this happen all the time in building and remodeling and that's one reason why I started Ask the Builder. I wanted to curate and preserve OLD METHODS of building that we know work and work well.
The young remodeler and factory rep didn't grasp why having a vapor barrier on the OUTSIDE of a wall on the Jersey coast was a bad thing.
"Mr. Carter, old homes used to have felt paper on them under the siding and there weren't problems," proclaimed the remodeler during the call.
Good point! But why did the tar paper work back then?
Well, you know what? I had the good fortune 45 years ago to remodel and tear into wood-frame houses that were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s in Cincinnati, Ohio. Many of these houses had tar paper on them.
The difference between those old houses and modern ones like the one above in the photo is as vast as the chasm at the Grand Canyon.
Old homes had no insulation. Old homes often had balloon framing allowing a draft to happen in the wall cavity. Old homes had leaky windows allowing dry winter air to enter homes lowering the humidity to such a degree you got shocked constantly touching doorknobs and any other metal object.
Water vapor in modern homes is constantly trying to get outdoors in the winter months. When this water vapor hits a cool or cold surface water vapor can and will transform to liquid water.
When it's 15 F outdoors, the OSB sheathing just under your siding is probably 16 F. How long do you think it takes water vapor to transform into liquid water in those conditions?
This liquid water, should it form, will fuel fungi growth that causes wood rot.
In OLD homes there was so much air movement in the wall cavity the water vapor would evaporate before turning into liquid water.
Modern platform framing techniques prohibit the movement of air inside wall cavities now.
Both the remodeler and factory rep were pretty much speechless.
It really pays off to pay attention in science classes in school. Please drive that point home with your kids and grandkids.
That's quite enough for today.
My favorite meal of the year is one week from tomorrow! WOOT!
Do It Right, Not Over!