Archive

  • Freeze-thaw damage to historic buildings

    Freeze-thaw damage to historic buildings

    Building preservationists take precautions. That’s good. Precautions are actions taken to help assure good outcomes, and are predicated on a belief linking the action with the outcome. There is a big concern for freeze-thaw damage in North American buildings. If you ask the preservationists why they take measures to prevent freeze-thaw damage, they are likely…


  • Building science meets ophthalmology

    Building science meets ophthalmology

    I would like to begin this post with a public service announcement. If you see the following happening in your eye, go immediately to an emergency room. A grey shadow creeps up from the bottom of the eye. You may have retina detachment. Like I did. Three times. You have hours to respond, not days.…


  • Rainwater management in 2 simple rules

    Rainwater management in 2 simple rules

    Any questions? How are we doing for time? This may seem like a simple approach, but in fact it stands in opposition to the most common approach to securing dry buildings. In the common approach, water is the bad guy, the bogeyman, a cunning and relentless threat to the health of our families, the sponsor…


  • Baalbek trilithon

    Baalbek trilithon

    A few years ago, I ran across a photo showing the trilithon in Baalbek, Lebanon. Three stones were moved onto a stone podium, and these limestones measured about 4m x 4m x 20m, and each weighed 800 tons. Current thinking seems to place the work in Roman times. How were these stones transported and put…


  • Buckling basement walls

    Buckling basement walls

    One of my first research chores at the University of Illinois, back in 1985, was to investigate residential basement walls that were buckling inward. This was common—almost universal—in 8” block basement walls of depression-era and post-war housing, with as much as 7 feet of unbalanced fill. I was invited to work on this with Paul…


  • Flashing takes wings

    Flashing takes wings

    The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation provides some of the best advice on building that can be found. One in their construction series has been on my shelf since its publication in 1998—Flashings. One drawing caught my eye, drawing 2.13a. It shows about the ugliest flashing job I’ve ever encountered. Don’t EVER flash a chimney…


  • Enthalpy exchange doesn’t work, does it? (updated below)

    Enthalpy exchange doesn’t work, does it? (updated below)

    I need your help. By my calculations, counter-flow plate-type enthalpy exchangers don’t work. So either there is something wrong with my calcs, or there is an industry out there that should take a good look at themselves. Rotary-wheel enthalpy exchangers probably work, though I’ve heard grumbling about maintenance and repair from mechanical engineers who had…


  • Welcome

    Welcome

    My name is William Rose. I made a career of building science at the University of Illinois. Now I’m wrapping up, and finding a public home for work I’ve done and work that until now has been incomplete. I hope you find it interesting, entertaining and useful. There are several themes in the posts to…


  • No more pipe bursting due to freezing

    No more pipe bursting due to freezing

    In 1994 Dean Flessner, a vice-president of State Farm Insurance, walked into our office and asked if we could solve the problem of pipe bursting due to freezing. We learned from him that the insurance industry had four categories of claims of damage to homes—downright Aristotelean—those due to earth, air, fire and water. The insurance…


  • Add-a-hole with the blower door

    Add-a-hole with the blower door

    Houses are rarely a single volume with a single enclosing skin. Houses and buildings have zones that are partially inside and partially outside a building, like attics, basements, crawl spaces and attached garages. It would be nice to know their contribution to the overall building leakage. It turns out that for a zone, we can…


  • Attic ventilation, a brief introduction

    Attic ventilation, a brief introduction

    In 1990 I was provided generous funding by CertainTeed Corporation to study attic ventilation. The study continued for about 10 years. We learned a lot from that study, which I will report on, later. I just want to share with you what was the major finding from the study. We began with a long building…


  • The “craftsman’s hand”

    The “craftsman’s hand”

    In my early 20s, I was captured by the romance of craft. What could be better than doing a tough job, doing it expertly, having it look good, and getting some appreciation. Being a good “mechanic” was the term of highest praise among my crowd. In George Eliot’s Adam Bede, a tough carpenter wins the girl’s…


  • Condensation, a brief introduction

    Condensation, a brief introduction

    Here’s the rap I’ve given a hundred times. Can you get condensation on a mirror? (Show a mirror. Heavy breath on the mirror. Note the fog.) Yes, you can get condensation on a mirror.  Can you get condensation on a sponge? (Show a sponge. Heavy breath on the sponge. Note that the sponge is unchanged.…


  • Legacy practices

    Legacy practices

    The building industry goes back millenia. So it should be no surprise that many of the practices in putting up a building are legacy practices—that is, they arose somewhere in building history, and they are retained because, well, sometimes just because. And this is good. Doing things the way we learned to do them, and…


Blog at WordPress.com.