17th Annual Andrew Ask Building Science Seminar

The 17th Annual Andrew Ask Building Science Seminar was Awesome! The house was packed with over 170 contractors and architects wanting to learn more about the best practices for attic venting, stucco for the builders, and flexible duct for the HVAC contractors. There was also a segment on how water behaves on surfaces, which was for everyone in the building construction community.

The event started at 7am, with registration and a continental breakfast. Andy Äsk, P.E. and Brad Schiffer, AIA, opened the seminar by welcoming
everyone and introduced the speakers for the event. Andy and Brad were the first speakers and focused on the topic of “Sealed vs. Vented Attics.” The presentation revealed recent changes in the Florida Residential Code, and building science research of moisture control in attics. The presentation included; a demonstration of negative effects of bad practices, new government regulations, and how contractors can incorporate them into the construction process.

Next up was Dr. Joe Lstiburek with “The Water Molecule” – Attendees learned exactly how two hydrogens and one oxygen atom attach themselves; more importantly, what happens when they are absorbed, or not absorbed on surfaces, and how many layers or how much we can tolerate before microbial growth occurs.

Dr. Lstiburek continued with “The Coming Stucco-Pocalypse” which is about a very old subject- -stucco. Stucco failures are rearing their ugly head again. Joe elaborated on what to watch for and mentioned that lime and other additives have something to do with it.

Then Chris VanRite spoke about “The Joy of Flex – Air Flow Fundamentals” The bottom line message hasn’t changed all that much–drain, flash, seal the building against water, air, vapor, and heat– four barriers. We are now more informed, perhaps a bit smarter, and have more weapons at our disposal in the form of advanced building materials.

Dr. Joe Lstiburek came back with “Diffusion Venting”. 20 years ago we learned that sealing attics with open cell spray foam insulation was the #1 tool for keeping moist air out of our homes, but there is more to the story. For example, on retrofits we were not getting a good seal at the spring line, where rafters meet wall, and we experienced high dew points near the roof ridge. Dr. Joe has been working on this one for almost 15 years and now revealed his answer based upon extensive research which he shared in his presentation. Not only will this solve a chronic problem with foamed attics, but it will help us out reducing condensation in most of our attics.

Andy Äsk, Brad Schiffer, Dr. Joe Lstiburek and Chris VanRite closed the building science seminar with a panel discussion, including questions and answers on Sealed vs.Vented Attics. This seminar was another home run! It keeps on getting better and better each year!

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