Tag Archives: closed cell spray insulation

Help Me Insulate My Pole Building

This story is sad, to me. As post frame building “experts” we (an industry collective we) owe it to our clients to educate them at design phase to avoid a situation such as reader ERIC in SPOKANE VALLEY has become happily (or maybe less happy) involved in.

Eric writes:

“I want to start insulating my pole building. 30x40x16, roof layers are metal, synthetic underlayment, osb, 2×8 purlins. My question is, can I leave an air gap between roof and insulation, as I plan on using R19 batting and covering with facing. Has an open ridge vent. Thank you.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Placing batts between purlins is probably not a Top Twenty best answer for several reasons:

If you do not completely fill purlin cavities, Code requires airflow from eave to ridge over top of the insulation. You have no way to achieve this without a major remodel. You don’t even want to go there.

Getting a perfectly sealed vapor barrier under purlins would be nearly impossible to achieve.

You would have to seal the ridge vent (it isn’t working anyhow, because your building does not have an air intake from enclosed vented soffits).

While installing a flat ceiling at truss bottom chord height might appear to be a quick solution, it also is fraught with some perils:

Trusses are probably not designed to support a ceiling load. It might be possible to obtain an engineered repair from the company who produced your building’s trusses.

Ventilation system would need to be addressed for newly created dead attic space.

Closed cell spray foam insulation would need to be added in the area closest to eave sidewalls.

Weighing what you have to start with, my recommendation is to spray three inches of closed cell foam insulation below your roof sheathing. This will provide a greater R value than R19 batts and provides a vapor barrier. You will need to seal off the ridge (foam installer may be able to just spray foam underside).

Also, I notice in your photo what appears to be a total absence of truss web and bottom chord bracing. I’d have to have a copy of your building’s sealed plans, a truss drawing and some more photos to truly discern.

How Could This Have Been Avoided?

Whoever provided this post frame building should have been asking some important questions:

Will you, or anyone who might own this building in future years ever want to climate control (heat, cool or both)?

If yes, what method of roof insulation is being considered? I like insulation over a flat level ceiling personally, as I then no longer pay to heat or cool the attic area. In order to do this right, energy heels (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/07/raised-heel-trusses/) should be utilized. It also means having adequate attic insulation with soffit vents as intakes and ridge vents as exhaust.

It all could have been so much simpler.

 

Do Vapor Barriers Trap Moisture?

Vapor Barriers Trap Moisture?

Do vapor barriers trap moisture in walls of post frame buildings? They can, but only if they are installed on both sides of a wall insulation cavity.

Regular readers of this column will recognize a prevailing trend towards climate controlling both new and existing post frame buildings. An ability to control interior climate extends far beyond merely what one happens to be doing for insulation. It also includes what one does for weather resistant barriers and vapor barriers.

Insulating WallsThe purpose of a vapor barrier is to stop warm, moist, indoor air from infiltrating fiber-type insulation (think fiberglass or cellulose) during cold weather and condensing. Visible moisture or frost on the inside of a vapor barrier is either caused by a leaky vapor barrier or moisture migrating into the wall cavity from the outside. Leaky siding can cause this, and it often happens in basements that are apparently leak free. Vapor barriers are essential for any kind of insulation that air can pass through. Never do the really foolish act of slashing a vapor barrier that you find has moisture behind it or forgetting to install a vapor barrier in the first place. Today’s best vapor barriers prevent moisture from moving into wall cavities while also letting trapped moisture escape.

Recommendations below are for cold-climate construction. As a rule of thumb, if you have to heat your building more than cool it, this probably applies to your circumstance.

A weather resistant barrier (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/01/determining-the-most-effective-building-weather-resistant-barrier-part-1/) will prevent moisture from entering a wall from outside of building. It also allows any moisture within a wall to exit. Pretty slick stuff, as it is smart enough to be directional.

Inside of this wall, once unfaced (recommended) insulation batts are installed, should be a vapor barrier (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/11/vapor-barriers-post-frame-construction/). It is imperative this vapor barrier not have unsealed tears or holes. It should be sealed to floor and ceiling and any joints, rips or tears should be adequately taped. Where problems most often occur, with vapor barriers, is when penetrations are made for things such as electrical boxes. Properly sealing of these penetrations with closed cell spray foam from a can does more to prevent warm moist air to pass through into your post frame wall insulation cavity, than anything else.

 

 

 

When the Pole Building Insulation Problem is Larger Than Imagined

When the Pole Building Insulation Problem is Larger Than Imagined

From questions I have received from loyal readers over the past year, post frame (pole) building insulation is right there at the top of the list for priorities. Sadly, it seems the same concern is not often put forward by those who are designing, providing and constructing post frame buildings – leaving far too many new building owners in a world of hurt.

DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a Hansen Pole Building

Reader KEVIN in WEST CHESTER writes: “When installing my insulation do I stop just short of the vented soffit inside at the top of the wall?”

Well, this is an easy question to answer – the wall insulation needs to not cover the air intake provided from the eave vents, if the thought is for them to be used as a functional vent.

Simple, wasn’t it?

Now we can get into the challenges presented in the photo.

Unless the walls are going to be insulated with closed cell spray foam, there should be a well-sealed building wrap between the wall framing and the wall steel. This allows any moisture which would be trapped in the wall to be able to pass through to the outside world.

Now, onto the big challenge – insulating the roof.

If the idea is to have the vents in the low eave soffit be an air intake, then there needs to be a corresponding air exhaust at the high end of the shed. Along with this there needs to be the ability of unobstructed airflow from the low eave to the high side above the roof insulation. This happens to be a Building Code requirement, not to mention it is designed to prevent mold, mildew and other associated decay issues. As the roof purlins appear to be an impediment to airflow if the cavity is filled – the solution may end up being to have to use closed cell spray insulation under the roof sheathing and do away with the eave ventilation.

Moral of the story – consider insulation and ventilation needs early on in the project, in the planning stages, not after the building shell is already constructed.