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Old 01-30-2007, 12:59 PM   #1
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Old House...New Dilemma (vapor barrier)


I'm in Minnesota and have to deal with the energy code for a remodel I'm doing. All new construction requires a vapor barrier or retarder on the warm side of walls and ceilings. My house was built in the 60's and I'll be remodeling half of it. I can't seem to interpret the rules regarding remodels, but it doesn't make sense to me to install a vapor barrier in half of your house if the other half doesn't have it.

Does anyone know the rules regarding vapor barriers for remodeled homes?

Does this mean I need to also install an air exchanger?

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Old 01-30-2007, 02:26 PM   #2
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Old House...New Dilemma (vapor barrier)


vapour barrier is cheap and not too difficult to install... why not just install it anyway...It also protect the new drywalls from getting moistures... so it is not just for insulation...

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Old 01-30-2007, 05:23 PM   #3
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Old House...New Dilemma (vapor barrier)


My point isn't about the cost of a vapor barrier. It's about the effect of a vapor barrier on fresh air in the home. You know ... leaky walls. If I do a vapor barrier, doesn't this tighten your home and then require you to look for new places to bring fresh air in?
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Old 01-30-2007, 06:17 PM   #4
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Old House...New Dilemma (vapor barrier)


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Originally Posted by wease View Post
My point isn't about the cost of a vapor barrier. It's about the effect of a vapor barrier on fresh air in the home. You know ... leaky walls. If I do a vapor barrier, doesn't this tighten your home and then require you to look for new places to bring fresh air in?
A vapor barrier can essentially be two things if you have regular fiber insulation batts.

1.) UNFACED insulation requires a Poly (plastic) vapor barrier

2.) Paper faced insulation, installed, has it's own vapor barrier - The 'treated' paper.


Additional point. By placing the vapor barrier on the warm side of your walls, you ARE allowing your house to 'breath'/ventilate.

Any hot air or warm moist air rises and goes up....and hopefully out .... if your house has some of the proper kinds of ventilation installed in it. i.e. - ridge venting, soffit venting, roof venting, rafter venting, gable venting, attic fans, etc...

As far as getting fresh air in: Summer allows that with windows. Winter - most up-to-date furnace or forced air heating systems in homes, have a fresh air intake as part of the unit.

Last edited by AtlanticWBConst.; 01-30-2007 at 06:19 PM.
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Old 01-30-2007, 06:29 PM   #5
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Old House...New Dilemma (vapor barrier)


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Originally Posted by AtlanticWBConst. View Post
A vapor barrier can essentially be two things if you have regular fiber insulation batts.

1.) UNFACED insulation requires a Poly (plastic) vapor barrier

2.) Paper faced insulation, installed, has it's own vapor barrier - The 'treated' paper.


Additional point. By placing the vapor barrier on the warm side of your walls, you ARE allowing your house to 'breath'/ventilate.

Any hot air or warm moist air rises and goes up....and hopefully out .... if your house has some of the proper kinds of ventilation installed in it. i.e. - ridge venting, soffit venting, roof venting, rafter venting, gable venting, attic fans, etc...

As far as getting fresh air in: Summer allows that with windows. Winter - most up-to-date furnace or forced air heating systems in homes, have a fresh air intake as part of the unit.
And this leads me to the next question. I certainly do have a fresh air intake. The problem is how do you control the amount of fresh air being drawn in? I'd think you'd want to be able to do that.

Also, how is this different from a "make up air" system?
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Old 01-30-2007, 06:53 PM   #6
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Old House...New Dilemma (vapor barrier)


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And this leads me to the next question. I certainly do have a fresh air intake. The problem is how do you control the amount of fresh air being drawn in? I'd think you'd want to be able to do that.

Also, how is this different from a "make up air" system?
I am not an HVAC expert. We did have a fresh air intake added to a system on a home we are currently working on.

The way I understood it is:

Fresh air intake is directly hooked up to the home's heating system. It is usually controlled by the home's air pressure. When it drops to a certain point, the system's intake opens and pulls in that outside air until it reaches a balanced measure. That is about as technical as I can verbalize it. You could find out more about this in the HVAC section...from someone more knowledgable about it.

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