Behind the Scenes with Enviro Dri

This blog is part of a series. Search our site for “behind the scenes” to read other articles in the series.

Carlson Exteriors gets excited about Tremco’s product, Enviro Dri for many reasons. These range from monetary savings all the way to long term homeowner protection. Before we dive into the behind the scenes of Enviro Dri, many of you might be unfamiliar with it. I’d suggest clicking here and reading this page to get a quick understanding.

EnviroDri on Apartments in Bloomington Il

The first benefit thats always on everyone’s mind is savings. How can something new save you money? While installation costs might be exactly the same as standard house wrap, using Enviro Dri during a new construction build can allow you to save money in other parts of your build. You can have thinner walls but have the same insulation rating because Enviro Dri is more energy efficient. The lumber savings alone is enough for many builders to switch to Enviro Dri from house wrap.

tyvek ripped and blowing in the wind

House wrap can tear easily if left exposed to high winds. Enviro Dri is a liquid that applied to your sheathing; no part of Enviro Dri can be ripped or destroyed by high winds or any harsh elements. During the build of your new home, you can rest assured that your home is protected if it takes a little longer than expected to get your siding installed. If you aren’t building your home, knowing that you you have Enviro Dri protecting it gives you a little extra piece of mind if any piece of siding would blow off. If you had a piece blow off or break, any exposed house wrap may also rip leaving the OSB exposed. Enviro Dri eliminates this from ever being a problem.

Enviro Dri is a more hardy of a moisture barrier. It can also be used under all products (brick, stone, stucco, etc). It will stand up to surface active contaminants that are frequently found in wood, stone, fiber cement siding. Over time these contaminants can break down house wrap’s barrier. There are no mechanical fasteners used in Enviro Dri’s application. Since it’s a liquid that’s applied, there are no nails or staples keeping it attached. Normally these areas could leave you exposed to a water infiltration. With house wrap your home will have many seams that could fail. These taped seams could fail from not being taped correctly to not withstanding the settling of your home over time. There are NO seams in Enviro Dri. As an added measure, everywhere the OSB sheets join up, our installers add a mesh strip to flex with the OSB (if needed).

 

Understanding Roof Underlayment

When replacing your roof, it’s very easy to get caught up in shingle color and brand. Before you rush into that, make sure your contractor is not skimping on the underlayment. Not all underlayment is created equal. Not all contractors install underlayment in the same locations.

Carlson Exteriors uses Winterguard, CertainTeed’s brand of ice and water barrier. Per city code this barrier is placed at all valleys and at the eaves.  However, there are locations this barrier should be applied that are not required by city code. These locations are all roof penetrations (such as vents or furnace flues), around chimneys, skylights, and anywhere a roof line meets a siding wall. These joining areas are first susceptible to leaks if your home is not sealed correctly by using a ice and water barrier. Many manufacturers require these additional areas to have an ice and water barrier applied to qualify for the roof or shingle warranty.

An Ice and Water Barrier (like Winterguard) should be applied around pipes, around chimneys, skylights, and anywhere a roof meets a siding wall
An Ice and Water Barrier (like Winterguard) should be applied around pipes, around chimneys, skylights, and anywhere a roof meets a siding wall

 

Make sure your contractor is not using a 15lb or 30lb felt. This used to be contractor’s only option but the roofing industry has evolved into synthetic felts. The old felt would tear easily and gave no traction to installers. If your home has the old felt under your shingles, if any shingles would blow off your flimsy felt would be left exposed. If exposed for too long, it will rip leaving your OSB to fend for itself. Synthetic felt eliminates this problem. Synthetic felt is extremely durable and resistant to ripping or tearing. Installers also prefer it when installing because it’s easier to work on.

When you meet with a contractor, remember more than the shingles are working to protect your home from roof leaks or ice dams. The whole roofing system, combined together, protects your home.

Humidity Gone Rogue

Frozen attic condensation can cause a frost like appearance on the inside of your attic

Rogue : a deceitful and unreliable scoundrel.

Seems funny to apply the word “rogue” to humidity. But during midwest winters it fits. Here’s why:

Every winter is bound to have a couple days to a couple weeks of below zero weather. When temperatures start to rise, homeowners start to notice brown spots on their ceiling that resemble roof leaks. This could be a sign of a roof leak; it could also be a sign that the home’s humidity was too high during the cold temperatures- causing attic condensation to freeze.

Furnace humidifiers are often forgotten to be adjusted during winters and create too much humidity. This moisture freezes when it hits your attic
Furnace humidifiers are often forgotten to be adjusted during winters and create too much humidity. This moisture freezes when it hits your attic

Many homes have humidifiers on their furnaces. Almost all new homes have this or homes with real wood floors. It’s a great thing to have, but homeowners need to be mindful of appropriate humidity levels. If the humidity is set higher than it should be during negative temperatures, the moisture rises up to the attic and before it can escape, it hits the bottom of the snow covered roof and freezes. Sometimes icicles even form off the nails! Once the weather warms up and one of the first things to thaw is attic condensation. Depending on high the humidity has been set on your house, this can be a decent amount of moisture coming down – thus causing brown spots on ceilings. It looks identical to spots from roof leaks.

What is the appropriate level of humidity for your home?

If the outside weather is…

  • 20 to 40 degrees, humidity should be less than 40%
  • 10 to 20 degrees, humidity should be less than 35%
  • 0 to 10 degrees, humidity should be less than 30%
  • -10 to 0 degrees, humidity should be less than 25%
  • -20 to -10 degrees, humidity should be less than 20%
  • below -20 degrees, humidity should be less than 15%

This will prevent attic condensation, mold, or any other issues caused by overly humid and warm air.

What about you?

These guidelines are the optimal levels to make your home comfortable, but what about the people living in it? Dryer air is not always the best for us to live in but there are ways to keep both you happy and your home comfortable. Instead of using whole house humidifiers use individual ones when you are using the room. Use programmable timers to turn on and off humidifiers. Buy indoor humidity sensors – these range from $5-$50. Click here to see the “indoor hygrometers” on Amazon.com

 

It’s so easy to forget to monitor or change your humidity. Many people don’t even realize this is what’s going on until it’s too late – brown spots appear! If this happens to you, don’t  panic but it’s still good practice to have a trusted roofer inspect to confirm no roof leaks.

 

Water Management

Rotten OSB and moldy insulation from water running behind siding and house wrap

Uncontrolled water is the biggest threat to homeowners. It’s a slow and silent killer. Here are the most common issues we see on homes.

Lack of Kick-Out Flashings. Even if your gutters are pitched correctly and don’t leak, they may appear to be leaking where the gutter butts up the wall. Or it might look like nothing is wrong at all. Overtime, water constantly slipping between the wall and gutter will find its way behind any house wrap or moisture barrier you have in place. Read more about kick-out flashings

siding and underlayment rotted from water running down the wall
Without a kick-out flashing, water is free to run down your siding and can creep behind your house wrap.
Rotten OSB and moldy insulation from water running behind siding and house wrap
Once you remove the house wrap you can see all the damage that the un-controlled water did behind the house wrap.

No Downspout Extensions. Often times homeowners remove these extensions out of aggravation. These extensions might seem like a trip hazard, a pain to mow around, or get trampled easily. – but don’t get rid of them! Your home and your foundation need these extensions to route water away from you home. You can add hinges to these extensions to eliminate all the hassle they cause. Click here to read more about downspout hinges.

downspout extension laying down and then in the up position
Left: Downspout is fully extended for proper water flow Right: Downspout has been lifted up to allow for mowing

Inadequate or No House Wrap. Depending on when your home was built and the history of your city’s building codes, your home might not have any house wrap or moisture barrier. For example, the City of Bloomington, IL did not start requiring any form of house wrap until the late 70’s. Practically all houses built before the early 70’s (in Bloomington, IL) are without house wrap. Siding, bricks, shakes or any other exterior cladding are not intended to protect your home from water intrusion. If your home does have house wrap, it might be done incorrectly: applied in small pieces, too many mechanical fasteners, or taped incorrectly. There are alternative moisture barriers to house wrap at similar expenses- Read about EnviroDri.

cedar siding on chimney. Underneath chimney is rotted usb
Cedar siding doesn’t always protect your home

Bad Pipe Flashings. Pipe flashing have a shorter lifespan than your roof and will need replaced a few times before you need a new roof. It’s a simple fix but if the flashing is cut too large, water will still get in. Watch Nick Coyle replace a pipe flashing.

cracked pipe boot flashing
Cracked pipe boot flashing causes leaks

 

If you are unsure about any of these, call a local, trustworthy contractor to give you a free inspection.

The Importance of Kick-out Flashing

Spring showers bring leaky gutters- Wait no, that’s not right! We’ve recently had a fair amount of homeowners call because they are tired of leaking gutters. It’s usually the lack of kick out flashing which gives the appearance of a leaky gutter but often has hidden disasters associated with it.

 

What is a kickout flashing?

A Kick out flashing is a tiny but valuable piece of metal that diverts water into the gutter. It’s installed along the wall that the gutter end terminates into. The image below shows a correct kickoff flashing. It’s important to make sure the kickout overhangs a decent amount into the gutter to ensure no water runs along the side wall behind the gutter endcap.

kickout-flashing
Proper Kickout Flashing

Why is a kickout flashing necessary?

Kick out flashings are needed to direct water into the gutter- in these specific areas, siding is often times notched to fit around the roof section and has the possibility of letting water slip behind the siding and run down the interior wall. Beyond the obvious trouble of improper water control, if your house doesn’t have any housewrap or housewrap failure, the sheeting underneath will often be moldy or rotting without a proper kickout flashing.

Bad Kickout Flashing
Kickout flashing is too short- Water is still likely to run against wall

The images below are of a home in Bloomington, IL that had a powerful combo of the housewrap installed incorrectly and no kickout flashing. Every place the gutter butted up against a side wall, the OSB underneath was completely rotted- our Carlson Exteriors guy was able to push his hand through the OSB easily.

 

Watch this video of to see how easily a kickoff flashing is installed!

 

EnviroDri vs. House Wrap

You may or may not have noticed a few new construction homes in your city that get this black coating instead of any house wrap paper products. The black coating is an exciting, newer product called EnviroDri; we believe EnviroDri is more efficient in function and cost savings than any other type of house wrap. This product streamlines the construction process and eliminates any worry a potential homeowner might have about any leaks or energy efficiency.

Homes need to have some sort of water resistive barrier over the sheeting to prevent water from entering the house from the outside but breathable for moisture to escape from the inside of the home. Typically, house wrap was been used as this water-resistive barrier; it is taped onto the home in large paper sheets. Any place the house sheeting meets another piece of sheeting the seam should be taped then the wrapping should be layered to provide protection as the house settles with age. Since the wrapping is put up in large sections, it’s common practice to add staples through each section to prevent the wind catching the paper and ripping it before the siding can be installed over it. As you can imagine already there are a few possibilities where this form of house wrap can fail. Any place the paper has been mechanically fastened (stapled) on to the home is at risk for a leak since the barrier has been penetrated. This is a very low risk, but, still a possibility. Depending on how fast your home is built, there could be a good span of time where your house sits with only house wrap on it while it waits for the siding or brick install; strong winds or storms can pull this house wrapping off or tamper the seals if not installed properly. While it is in the manufacturer’s installation instructions to overlap over sheeting seams, the installer might not follow this in efforts to cut their own material costs. Let’s say everything was installed properly and you been living in your home for a few years without any leaks or problems but a storm comes and blows off some siding. Your house wrap in that section is now exposed and if the storms or strong winds continue, the house wrap could become shredded in the exposure.

EnviroDri is a water resistant membrane that is sprayed onto your home after it’s been sheeted. The membrane and the wooden underlayment function as one unit once the membrane is cured. All seams have a water resistive “mesh” applied over and then sprayed again by the EnviroDri membrane. The mesh flexes with the seams the house settles, effectively protecting it throughout the shifting. Since EnviroDri is sprayed on there won’t be any mechanical fasteners piercing the barrier, so absolutely no risk of leaks due to that. Since the membrane is adhered to the sheeting, if your siding blows off your house is still protected from any storms or high winds.

EnviroDri is more energy efficient than any other form of house wrap. It’s more efficient because it’s a tighter protection than any form of house wrap because there is no space between the sheeting and the barrier. This allows you to go from a a 2×6 wall with R-19 insulation to a 2×4 wall with a R-13 insulation and still see energy improvements. The attic insulation can also go from a R-50 to an R-30. All of this saves money on materials and energy in the long run.

Learn More Here

Why wouldn’t you want your house EnviroDri’d?

Dryvit- Friend or Foe?

What is Dryvit? Dryvit is most frequently referred to as stucco looking material by homeowners but is actually a composite material that was designed to be insulated and water resistant, while maintaining a “beautiful” exterior appearance. The use of this material in the U.S. started in the 1960’s but boomed in the 70’s. The promise of a water resistant decorative insulation made it a popular exterior choice. Why wouldn’t it?

Like most specialized products, Dryvit only works if installed properly. Dryvit is similar to brick’s installation where there needs to be a gap between your sheeting (underlayment) and the Dryvit to allow the moisture to dry without being up against the wood. Knowledgeable installers could not keep up with the high demand of Dryvit in the 70’s , so unqualified installers stepped in. The majority of those jobs were installed wrong, the Dryvit soaks up the water and retains it against the wooden underlayment, allowing it to rot and get moldy. There is no way to tell the condition of the underlayment without removing the Dryvit- many homeowners are living with severe rot and damage without being aware of it.

We were recently hired on to replace a homeowner’s dryvit exterior with a vinyl product because the homeowner was tired of the “dated look” the dryvit gave their home. When we tore off the Dryvit we found out it was not installed properly and a majority of the underlayment had to be replaced. In the photos, you can see all the black mold on the wood and in some cases the wood no longer exists from years of rotting away.

Dryvit Rotted Wood Dryvit Rotted Wood Dryvit Rotted Wood Dryvit Rotted Wood Dryvit Rotted Wood Dryvit Rotted Wood Dryvit Rotted Wood