A symposium on insulating materials would not be complete without discussing the effect of the thermal and vapor performance on potential condensation problems in insulated assemblies. Retrofitting the top of an existing insulated roof with an impermeable rigid or foamed insulation can lead to serious condensation-related maintenance problems. Dew point studies in Alaska indicate that the thermal resistance of retrofitted assemblies should be at least two times greater than the existing insulated wall, or roof to avoid condensation in the cavity, depending on local heating degree days . Further, an exterior impervious insulated wall or roof assembly should be provided with some type of natural venting to relieve vapor pressure and allow excess condensate to drain and evaporate. Unfortunately, most condensation problems do not become apparent for 5 to 10 years, long after the one year warranty is null and void.
A computer spreadsheet will be presented that simulates dew point conditions in an insulated roof assembly to determine the proper selection and placement of the vapor retarder, insulation, and ventilation of the exterior skin to prevent further deterioration of the roof. This necessitated the computation and tabulation of surface temperatures, dew point temperatures, vapor pressures and relative humidities at various structural components of the insulated assemblies, particularly near the outer skin.