Issue # 10: Building Science
ISSN 1703-5597
 April 16, 2003

Issue #10 Building Science

  1. Building Science: Terms, House As A System, HAM
  2. Pressures: House, Combustion Gases & Ghosting
  3. Moisture: Meters, Hole-In-The-Wall, Mold
  4. Building Details: From CMHC, Dr Joe & IRC
  5. Existing Homes: Renovations & Home Improvements
  6. Training Courses: BC & US
  7. Other Resources: Links, Experts, CD & Forums

1. Building Science Terms, House As A System, HAM

Glossary Of Terms
Here are the ABC's of building science terminology, according to Building Science Corporation. They also provide links to more detailed info and drawings on many of the topics.

House As A System When Remodelling (PDF FILE)
This US National Association of Home Builders training guide provides an explanation of the house as a system, and things to consider when remodeling a home

House As A System For New Homes
Colorado E-Star program provides House As A System explanation and background, plus considerations for new home design, building components, and construction techniques.

HAM: Heat Air & Moisture Interactions (PDF FILE)
For you techies out there this article from IRC explains in detail how heat, air and moisture interact with each other.

2. Pressures: House, Combustion Gases & Ghosting

House Backdrafting Causes And Cures
Stack effect or high-powered exhaust devices can cause over-depressurization and backdrafting. This article by BC building researcher Sebastian Moffatt explains how new trends in construction can increase this situation, furnace and fireplace issues, and how to test for and solve problems.

Combustion Gases: What, When & Why
This CMHC article also covers house pressures within an overview of combustions gases. Included is info on equipment problems, testing procedures and recommended solutions.

Ghosting: Black Stains On Carpets
Many of you know about the black stains that seem to have appeared on carpets over recent years. This article (with pictures) from Home Energy magazine covers possible causes (house pressures) and gives some tips for solution.

3. Moisture: Meters, Holes-In-The-Wall, Mold

Moisture Meters: Using Electric Units
The use of moisture meters is increasing here on the wet coast. This moisture consulting company offers describes the benefits and limitations of electrical moisture meters, and tips for using them effectively.

Vapour Diffusion Ports: The Hole-In-The-Wall Approach
Some coastal builders are drilling vapour diffusion ports in exterior walls to assist walls in drying. This CMHC research report summarizes their testing of this approach.

Mold: A Free Homeowners’ Guide
Everyone in our industry knows about the increasing mold concerns. CMHC provides this free report called Fighting Mold – The Homeowners’ Guide. It helps people understand possible causes and provides tips for solving mold problems.

4. Building Details: From CMHC, Dr. Joe & IRC

Canadian Best Practice Guides: Coastal & Cold Climates CMHC has developed Best Practice Guides For Wood-Frame Envelopes. For $89 you get both the manual and a CD-ROM that contain lots of building science information and good construction details. For those of you building in Coastal BC, this guide focuses on moisture management.

Dr. Joe Lstiburek’s Builders Guides
EEBA sells Dr Joe Lstiburek’s Builders Guides for $40 US. These books have simple explanations of building techniques, with great drawings. For coastal BC order the Mixed-Humid Climate version. Other regions order the Cold Climate version.

Dr. Joe Lstiburek’s Building Details
Here’s an example of the building details in Dr. Joe’s guides.

Building Science For A Cold Climate: For The Techies
This Canadian Institute for Research in Construction book explains how principles of physical science apply to building in Canada. Note that this focuses on cold climate construction.

5. For Existing Homes: Renovations & Home Improvements

CMHC Renovators Technical Guide
This $35 book helps renovators use the House-As-A System approach when working on existing homes. It has a good overview of building science (with drawings) along with things to consider and do for many different house components.

Home Improvements & House As A System
When upgrading the energy efficiency of existing homes BC Hydro recommends awareness of the House As A System concept. Here is a brief overview of what this includes.

Home Performance Contractors & HAS
A small but growing sector of our industry is specializing in using building science and the House As A System to solve problems. This article from Home Energy magazine describes the roles and skills of a Home Performance Contractor.

6. Training Courses: BC & US

BC’s Own Building Science Course: 5-Day
BCIT offers the BEST (Building Envelope Solutions) course. It was developed specifically for the BC residential construction industry. The first module focuses on the basics of building science. These are also offered outside the Lower Mainland.

Principles Of Building Science: US 3-Day
In the United States, Advanced Energy is one of the leading building science training companies. This 3-day workshop will change the way you look at homebuilding.

7. Other Resources: Links, Experts, CD & Forums

Website Links
Local BC building science consultants RDH Building Engineering offers up this listing of links to building science websites.

Canada’s National Research Council Experts Search
Do you want to find an NRC expert on Canadian building science topics? Try out this Expert Search.

CD-ROM From Journal Of Light Construction
JLC is one of the most respected technical publications in our industry. This $99.95 (US funds) CD contains every article from 1986. Free 1-year access to JLC Online is included.

Discussion Forum
Although this forum from CMHC is focused on high-rise construction there is information relevant to many different types of buildings.

Dittie For Today: On Quality
Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. – Robert Elliot

 © Copyright 2003               Ken Farrish               All Rights Reserved