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In response to increasing energy costs, high thermal resistance insulation systems are being marketed for pre-engineered metal buildings. Historically, blanket insulation has been installed between the skin and the structure of these buildings. The new insulation systems generally are installed inside the structure; thus the structure is colder and, unless an effective retarder is included, water vapor condensation problems can result.
While the vapor permeance of various insulation facing materials is documented, the effect of such field conditions as seams and penetrations is less well known. Permeance tests were performed on samples of foil-kraft paper insulation facing with two seams and two penetration configurations. The tests show that seams can multiply the permeance of the vapor retarder by factors of 1.2 or more and penetrations can multiply the permeance by 3 or more.
The theory of vapor flow analysis is reviewed and compared with the test results and presented graphically. Possible applications and suggestions for further investigation are discussed.
thermal insulation, vapor retarders, mass transport of moisture
Associate Professor, School of Architecture, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn.