The concept of a rain screen may be new although it was actually developed in the 1960's. This strategic approach is based on a scientific method of dealing with potential leaks. It is important to understand that the roof and walls of a building interact with the environment. Using this approach allows moisture to enter and escape from the walls and roof of a structure easily and without damaging interior components.
There are three ways that moisture can penetrate a structure: an opening; water; and any force that pushes or pulls water inside. Some of the forces that cause liquid movement include capillary action, pressure differentials, gravity, and kinetic energy to name a few. This approach to deal with moisture acknowledges that the first two factors of openings and water are impossible to eliminate. So to deal with water penetration, a chamber must be included during building construction between the interior and exterior walls with proper flashing and air seals; this is called the rain screen method. If any liquid attempts to get inside, the chamber will direct it back outside through the exterior wall.
It is probably wise to work with an architect to begin a building design that consolidates the rain screen method into the plan. A reputable roofing company should be consulted during the design process so experts can review the blueprints to ensure that the screen is appropriately placed.
Though it may seem an extreme measure to have a roof incorporate a rain screen between the exterior and interior walls, it is important to know that water movement such as this is unchangeable. Coatings, seals and caulk are simply quick and temporary fixes that will eventually wear down, allowing the condition to persist. If there is an existing moisuture build-up in one part of the roof due to leakage, there is a great possibility that a similar condition exists elsewhere.
It is vital to take time to fully evaluate a roof and exterior walls when considering whether or not to use the rain screen method when either constructing a new home replacing an older one. One of the advantages in this application is saving future money costs. For example, if a problem develops it is discovered through an infrared image analysis that severe moisture accumulation has occurred, complete reconstruction and incorporation of the rain screen method may be required at this point to prevent any further damage – and that is a very expensive lesson to be learned.
It is essential to approach moisture build-up issues strategically and scientifically. A smart design and strong implementation of the rain screen method can dramatically reduce moisture build-up. Consulting with a knowledgeable roofer during the blueprint design phase is the best recommendation to let a rain screen work hard to keep a home dry!
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