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The 4 Control Layers Behind the Perfect Wall Concept

There is a concept known as the perfect wall. Essentially, the perfect wall would be an environmental separator keeping the outside separate from the inside. For this wall to be able to achieve this, it would need to have four control layers: water, heat, air, and vapor.


But why is this important? Well, when searching for a new home, you should know what to look for in terms of the walls. And these four control layers can give you a better understanding of what your walls need to have. So, without further ado, let’s dive right into it.


Water Control Layer


One of the things a home inspector will look for in a building is dryness. Water damage can be a serious problem in any home and can compromise the home’s structural integrity. So, you have to see if the home can keep water out.


But aside from that, it should also allow things to dry up when things get wet. So, you need to ask yourself whether the structure provides a means to facilitate drying. If not, this could spell trouble. Some signs that the structure has a poor water control layer include visible water damage, rotting, and staining.


Thermal Control Layer


Heat is also an issue when building a structure. Ideally, the walls should have a thermal control layer that controls the transfer of heat. This is often achieved through insulation.


There are many insulation options out there, but to know which ones are the best, you need to take a look at the R-value. This essentially describes a material’s ability to resist heat transfer. With a higher R-value, less heat is transferred.


Since insulation is often hidden away, you would need a thermal camera to determine the R-value. But there are also some signs of an insufficient thermal control level that you can experience. This includes fast thermal changes and long-running cycles.


Air Control Layer


Air control is important in a home. In fact, the air control layer can often affect your monthly energy costs. Since the outside air can be pretty unpredictable, you’d want to keep it from your inside air, which you use to heat and cool your home.


Vapor Control Layer


Remember how the perfect wall should keep the outside out and the inside in? Well, this is especially important as the seasons change. You see, during the winter, the outside air can be dry and cold. And so, you would want to keep it away from the inside air, which is warm and wet. On the other hand, during the summer, the outside air can be humid and hot. And you wouldn’t want this to affect the cool and dry inside air.


The air control layer can have a hand in keeping the outside air separate from the inside air. However, moisture is often found in the air. And water tends to travel from an area of high concentration to one with low concentration. This means water vapor can travel to the outside during the winter, making the inside air drier. On the other hand, in the summer, the water vapor will be coming inside, making the air more humid.


So, when a home inspector is examining the vapor control layer, humidity levels will be checked. The vapor control will be a failure if high humidity levels are found.


Final Thoughts


There are certain things home inspectors will look for when examining a structure. And when it comes to walls, they will be looking at the water, thermal, air, and vapor control layers. When these layers fail, it doesn’t just affect the quality of life in that home but also the safety of the structure. So, it’s important to keep these principles in mind when building a home.


Make sure your home check meets the standards with the help of Let’s Do It Home Inspections. We provide home inspection services in Birmingham, AL. We assure you that no matter the size of your home, we provide the same high-quality professional home inspection service to

every homeowner and realtor. Schedule your inspection now!




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