Funny thing about labels, they can tell you some useful things but there is a trick…..you need to actually read them.
There are labels for almost anything, to tell you when you should purchase something, or throw it away or even how it should be installed…..
I was in a Salem, Oregon attic the other day and I noticed some labels. These labels were on building components and the labels had instructions or indications for how the product should be installed. The first label I noticed was on the fiberglass batt insulation:
Clearly, right on the surface of the paper face were some instructions, “Apply this side toward living space.” I was in the attic space and it was definitely not set up for “living.” The reason for this label has to do with the movement of moisture vapor as it leaves the living space and enters an unheated space. With the vapor barrier/paper face installed improperly, water vapor that is traveling up through the ceiling and through the insulation hits the big temperature difference at the paper face and condenses into liquid. Here the liquid water is trapped and will cause bad things to happen to the home (mold, rot, deterioration, ect). When the paper face is installed properly the vapor will not hit the dew point till it is past the vapor barrier/paper face and if the vapor condenses into liquid in the fiberglass batting, it can breath and escape and most importantly, is not trapped!
A few feet away I saw another label. The manufactures for the gas flue for the water heater wanted to help the installers and make sure to remind them of proper installation:
Looks like this was another instance of lack of proper literacy. The purpose for the 1″ gap requirement is fire safety. The type B vent is designed to stay cooler than a straight walled pipe however it does heat up. Over the years the combustible materials that are too close to the pipe will heat up over and over again. Each time this heating occurs there are slight changes in the molecular structure and the material’s flash point, temperature that it catches fire, drops. Eventually this may become a fire hazard.
Labels are important. Read, read, read and if you don’t know why you should do something, call someone, like a wonderful home inspector, who does!
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