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Researcher Reveals 'Five Myths' About Homes


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MADISON, WI -- Each year American homeowners spend millions of dollars attempting to fix or prevent moisture-related problems. Too often, their efforts don’t fix the problem. In some cases, these efforts actually make matters worse. So says Anton TenWolde, a physicist and researcher who has been studying moisture in buildings for more than 20 years. According to TenWolde, many generally accepted moisture-control practices in the United States are based on limited or no research but mostly on tradition among home builders and others.

“We spend very little on housing research in the United States. Several countries, including Canada and even smaller nations like Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden, invest more than the United States in research into home-building technology,â€

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Myth Three is a surprise for me. It's my opinion that homes ARE being built too tight with resulting problems. The myth does not seem to address moisture that is generated inside the home; bathing, breathing, laundry, cooking and humidifiers. I'd also raise the issue of off gassing of the many products and coated surfaces in the home. Studies often point to how contaminated the air can be inside homes, why make them tighter?

Myth Two, attics need lots of ventilation. Technically, it's possible to get away with no venting. But in real life, BillieBob screws up the best laid plans. Seems like it's just best to plan on poor details being carried out and venting the attic to compensate for the stack effect that will likely occur.

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I agree with you Eric, myths two and three also surprised me. I've heard in the past that proper attic ventilation can reduce air conditioning bills by as much as 10%.

Unfortunately, I don't remember where I heard it.

I also think that there should be an extra myth added, "Just because you're told that the house has been sealed tightly, doesn't mean that it has been."

"See the Billie-Bob with all the red tape stuck to his shirt and hands? He's in charge of taping the Tyvek and sealing up the windows."

The reality is that there still remains a considerable amount of research to be done on vapor barriers and retarders, insulation and radiant barriers. What seems to work in one section of the country can cause problems in another area.

Jeff Beck

Foresight Home Inspection LLC

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