Measured Moisture Performance of Sealed and Insulated Attics with Permeable Insulation In California Homes
This study performed detailed thermal and moisture measurements in two homes in Fresno and Clovis, California with sealed attics insulated with glass fiber insulation to determine moisture performance in inland California climates. Data were recorded once every minute for more than a year in each home to allow detailed observation of time-varying moisture and thermal conditions. Moisture measurements were taken at multiple locations in each attic and included wood moisture, surface condensation and surface relative humidity. The results showed that there are strong solar-driven diurnal cycles in attic wood and air moisture content, as well as longer-term seasonal and annual variations. Mold growth was observed on the North roof deck in one of the two homes even in this sunny dry climate with attics built in compliance with California building codes that specifically address sealed and insulated attics with vapor-permeable insulation. We investigated moisture stratification in the attic and found that, although there is stratification during sunny daytime hours, this was not when wood moisture content, surface humidity or surface condensation are high. Therefore, other moisture transport mechanisms are acting to increase moisture levels near the roof peak. Our measurements also showed that the attic with the highest measured moisture levels did not have any mold growth, while mold was visually observed in the attic whose measurements indicted little or no concern, indicating that the state-of-the-art in moisture measurement and mold growth prediction in building assemblies may be insufficient.