Weatherizing to Ensure Longevity
The main purpose of weatherizing is to keep moisture out. Moisture can cause damage such as mold and mildew, and even worse – can freeze over winter and crystallize, causing the affected material to develop tiny and deadly cracks when those crystals melt in the spring. Many people choose to weatherize certain parts of their structure not only to go green and cut down on heating and cooling costs, but to maximize the lifespan of the building materials.
So, what is weatherization? Weatherization is when you protect a building’s exterior (and interior) from the elements, particularly from wind, moisture/precipitation, or UV sunlight. This helps to modify the structure in a way that optimizes energy efficiency by reducing energy consumption, as well as offering extra protection to the structural integrity and lifespan of the construction materials. While there are a variety of techniques to protect a building from both surface water and ground water damage, the most common is to use plastic liners between materials to act as a barrier.
Here are some parts of your home, building, or structure that can easily be weatherized to maximize efficiency and end-use:
Foundations – Installing a vapor barrier beneath a dry foundation ensures that the foundation will remain forever dry below the structure. Using waterproofing membranes not only restrain toxic underground vapors from seeping into the foundation (and ultimately, into your space), but also control absorption and condensation of moisture – preventing mold, and other moisture-related structural damage. The installation of under slab vapor barriers beneath a building’s concrete foundation can prevent many expensive moisture migration problems such as flooring damage, radon contamination, mold, mildew, and poor indoor quality. Furthermore, using String Reinforced sheeting ensures that there are no massive tears, holes, or rips in the barrier when you install it.
Crawlspaces – In some structures, a crawlspace is used to elevate systems such as plumbing, electrical, HVAC, or other piping off of the floor to prevent freezing or contact with moisture. Crawlspaces offer quick and easy access to pipes, substructures, and a variety of other areas that may be difficult or expensive to access otherwise. However, this environment is perfect for mold and mildew to form on any surface in the crawlspace, especially cardboard boxes, wood floors and surfaces, drywall and some types of insulation as water from the damp ground, water vapor, and moisture seeping through porous concrete can create damaging moisture over the years. Encapsulating a crawlspace with a vapor barrier is crucial for the longevity of the structure above, as well as for the functional integrity of the systems it is supposed to protect. There are 4 main characteristics to a successful crawl space vapor barrier: moisture protection, durability, longevity and value.
Walls – Other protection techniques have become common in the construction industry, mainly building coverings and wraps. One example is applying a membrane (such as the vapor barrier) to the inside face of your insulation layer (facing the wall). This seal retards moisture from seeping into the insulation – which can cause mold, mildew, and other health and safety concerns down the road. This also works great in attics, basements, and crawlspaces as well. Another great use is during construction; products such as heat shrinking wraps can help protect a building from the elements while it is in its bare structural stages. Again, keeping moisture away from a structure’s mainframe is crucial for a successful construction.
Roofs – Similarly, lining your roof is crucial in protecting your home of building from damaging elements such as wind, rain, and sunlight. Using the correct lining, such as a string-reinforced poly, will help maximize your roof’s potential by protecting and insulating your space.
Windows – Windows, too, can be weatherized. Several UV inhibiting films available not only help further insulate your home, but can also help protect the window itself from damaging wind, rain, and direct sunlight. This is an ideal solution if you need to quickly prepare your home or building from severe climate events, or need additional protection during construction, remodeling, retrofitting, etc.
Decks – Decks are one of the most vulnerable components of a home or building, as it is exposed to the elements year-round. Covering your deck with a Deck Cover will help keep any rain, snow, or ice from seeping into the deck’s material, and ensures that your deck will last. Similarly, you can protect your deck in the summer from harmful direct UV sunlight, as well as fire – Deck Covers are fire-retardant, and since most decks are made of wood, we all know what a fire hazard they may be – especially if you live in a dry hot and windy climate. Covering your decks also protect it from any spills, debris, or other damaging situations that may arise during surrounding construction, remodeling, etc. Another comprehensive approach to protecting exposed outdoor elements such as fences, pillars, lamps, etc. would be using Heat Shrink Wrap. This film applies easily and takes the shape of whatever you wrap it with, and when heat is applied with a special heat gun, it shrinks and conforms to the shape, leaving a perfect coverage around the object.