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Will Your New Home Have Water and Mold in its' Walls?
A Few Candid Observations from Miracle HomeBuilders Founder Tom Hignite

Over the years, I have never met a builder who would purposely build a new home that would invite water and mold into their wall system. I invite you to pickup a copy of the Star Tribune article (Minneapolis-St. Paul) available at our models entitled Owner of Newer Homes Face Water Damage Risk that gives evidence - despite good intentions - many builders are building homes that do have water an mold in the walls! When asked about his potential problem, most builders may answer to the effect that "we've been building homes for XX years and we just don't have these kind of problems he may have. When home occupants continually get sick, the occupant may not even imagine the mold in the air can be a major contributor.

Unless the builder is returning to the homes 2 to 4 years later and performing mold air tests (or dismantling walls) how can a builder know? The builder usually has no real idea of what problems he may be causing by his method of construction. Has the builder ever had an independent third party inspection done? Does he design his homes specifically to use methods to avoid water intrusion? If you ask the builder about wall water and he gives you a puzzled look, is this really the builder that you want to entrust to your family's health? Hopefully, this won't be the case.

Understanding why homes get mold inside walls is not really complicated. Water enters in only two possible ways. Either in liquid form from the outside (rain seepage) or from the inside of the home due to sweating or condensation. Simply, a glass of iced tea placed onto your picnic table on a 90 degree day soon has a puddle beneath it. If you replace the glass with a foam coffee cup, the puddle (condensation) disappears. Condensation always forms on the warmer side of a barrier when cold is on the opposite side. This is why windows may sweat on the interior of a home on a very cold day. Likewise, this is indeed what is occurring inside a wall when it is very cold outside.

The physics behind this phenomenon changes when you home is built like the foam coffee cup. When you have enough insulation foam board (R7 or more) on the homes exterior, and you build the frame of 2x4s, this allows the heat in the home to fill the wall cavity evenly. This also puts the dew point (the temperature at which moist air becomes liquid) outside of the wall itself. Unlike 2x6 walls that are not able to be as evenly filled with interior heat, the 2x4 wall outperforms the 2x6 wall. The two critical elements are using 2x4s (not 2x6) and using an R7 or better exterior sheathing (see our separate wall brochure on the Dowâ Intelligent Wall system).

In construction today, there are many great products that are being improperly used. While OSB (strand board) is great for unheated garages, roofs and floors, it's a bad idea for living walls. Putting house wraps over OSB is becoming a common "bad idea". House wraps do not stop mold. Mold is the enemy and knowledge is the answer. Best advice: ask questions.

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