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Thread: freeze line in walls

  1. #1 freeze line in walls 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope sculptor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    In walls of buildings where it gets cold there are temperature gradients within the insulated walls.
    Somewhere within the insulated wall, the temperature will be at the level of freezing 0C 32F.
    When I studied design 40 odd years ago we called this line the frost line, or freeze line. This is where, if you do not have a good vapor barrier on the inside of the walls, there will be frost forming in the insulation. This line migrates in and out as the outside temperature changes, and as the building is heated and by how much it is heated.
    eg: when it is -20 degrees f outside and 70 degrees f inside,--that is a 90 degree heat day(damned expensive)
    As that frost line or freeze line moves in toward the interior of the building, one has less insulating value between freezing and interior temperatures.

    I have been looking for recent research and data on the migration of the frostline with different insulating materials and layers, and come up dry.
    When searching it on google, I came up with everything from advertising to turtles and salamanders--------BUT no good research.

    I try to control and keep that line in the outer layer of wood siding, airspace, and foamboard insulation before it gets into and inside of the plywood skin on the inside of which is the fiberglass insulation, but in seeking that goal, I fall back on pure guesswork.

    So, my question:

    Does anyone here have any good leads to research into the migration of that frost line within insulated walls, and direct mitigating factors?

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  3. #2  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    I can't help, because I live in a temperate rainforest and have spent all my life opposing what is best practice for dry frosty winters. I can say at least through the 80's and 90's building codes got it all wrong so a generation of buildings sprouted mushrooms in their wall cavities. One paradigm doesn't fit all environments. This is just a heads-up to people reading the thread.

    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  4. #3  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope sculptor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Building codes are cheap engineering advice. Aside from that, some fools think one code is good for all applications and all climates. And some are peculiar to the cuckoo's nest.
    (grain of salt, and all that)
    I met a fellow a few years ago who was looking for a grant to track the freeze line in various configurations of walls. I think he didn't get the research $.

    Not only do I think this research needs be done,(and done well), but it should be made available to anyone interested in building a better building.
    I ain't a great fan of regulation, but I cringe when I see local homebuilders seemingly proudly advertising "R11 walls"----The ignorant who buy those homes would probably also buy in flood plains.

    When building here, I went with layers of different insulating materials and wind barriers---but it was guesswork--an educated guess, but a guess none the less.
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