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Building America Reports

BA-1307: Interior Insulation of Mass Masonry Walls: Joist Monitoring, Material Test Optimization, Salt Effects

By Kohta Ueno, Randy Van Straaten, Chris Schumacher    Created: 2013/06/04

There are many existing buildings with load-bearing mass masonry walls, whose energy performance could be improved with the retrofit of insulation. However, adding insulation to the interior side of walls of such masonry buildings in cold climates may cause performance and durability problems. Some concerns have known solutions, but there are known knowledge gaps: four topics were studied in more detail in this work.

Wood members embedded in the masonry structure will be colder (and potentially wetter) after an interior insulation retrofit. Embedded wood joist ends were monitored for moisture content and relative humidity, in a solid brick building that is being retrofitted with interior insulation. Preliminary results show high moisture contents on some orientations (due to the “mothballed” or unheated condition of the building), but lower moisture contents on other orientations.

Frost dilatometry is used to assess freeze-thaw risks to masonry buildings, but the associated testing and simulation activities add project cost and time requirements. Some practitioners have questioned whether frost dilatometry testing is required in every case, and whether generalizations could be made. Analysis of the existing database of material testing results indicates that few useful patterns could be determined.

The effect of dissolved salts on masonry durability was examined, including their effect on freeze-thaw behavior, subfluorescence effects, and the effect on material property testing.

The methodology of the frost dilatometry testing was optimized. Changes included sample size reduction, length measurement protocols, and optimization of the freeze-thaw cycle time. These changes improve throughput without loss of test accuracy.

 

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