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    Moisture Problems in Buildings in the Subarctic

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    Because of the long heating season and the extreme low temperatures experienced in arctic regions most buildings experience some form of moisture-related problems. These problems can range from frost buildup on windows or glaciering on window sills to ice/frost formation in the insulation within the wall cavity of the structure. The formation of ice/frost in the insulation usually goes unnoticed until a warm spell or the springtime when outdoor temperatures rise above the freezing point and melt water appears.

    This paper presents several case studies of moisture migration through building materials with the subsequent damage caused by this migration. Most of the examples demonstrate that the cause of the damage was not the failure of the vapor retarder itself, but holes created in the vapor retarder due to the installation of windows, doors, vents, electrical outlets, chimneys, and structural members. Sealing the vapor retarder at these wall penetrations is difficult, which suggests a need for improved design and construction methods. A brief discussion of some possible solutions to these problems also is presented.


    buildings, construction materials, moisture content, water vapor

    Author Information:

    Zarling, JP
    Associate professorprofessor, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska

    Rice, E
    Associate professorprofessor, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska

    Swanson, KC
    General engineer, Office of Federal Inspector, Alaska Natural Gas Transportation System, Fairbanks, Alaska

    Committee/Subcommittee: E06.41

    DOI: 10.1520/STP38699S