Lordy, I KNOW there is tape!

photo credit: Scott Ehardt

photo credit: Scott Ehardt

You are a defendant in a lawsuit. The crime? A moldy, moisture-damaged building. What you don’t want to have to say during deposition while under oath, “Lordy, I hope there is tape!”

Most of the building trade knows how rainwater can damage buildings. Much less is understood about the role of air infiltration, especially in hot and humid climates. Even small amounts of moisture-laden air infiltration can quickly cause moisture and mold damage. This damage can go undetected until it becomes a crisis. In addition to proper HVAC pressurization, your air barrier is the primary defense against moist air infiltration.


The key to a successful air barrier is full continuity as well as having minimal unsealed penetrations. One of the most common air barriers is mechanically fastened membranes (building wraps or house wraps) such as polyethylene- fiber or spun-bonded polyolefin. These membranes provide a good barrier to air as well as a secondary rainwater barrier. However, as a system they rely on well taped seams. Many of the air barrier problems Liberty Building Forensics Group (LBFG) has investigated were often the result of missing, loose, and/or poorly applied tape at the seams.

Loose tape can occur when there is a time lag between installation of the wrap and the subsequent layer of building envelope, such as stucco on lath or fiber cement siding. Wind and high temperatures from sun exposure can loosen and tear away the tape. This is especially problematic in coastal construction areas as they often encounter constant winds. One thing that’s guaranteed – you know the next trade is not going to reseal the tape!

So for your next project, be sure to include a robust QA program and QC program that ensures the wrap tape is properly installed and adhered before it is buried in the next level of envelope material. Alternatively, and especially in coastal areas, consider a fluid applied system offered by many of the building wrap manufacturers.

That way you can say “Lordy, I know there is tape.”

The LBFG staff has extensive expertise in investigating and resolving construction and design deficiencies in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast states, as well as in Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and Southeast. Please visit http://www.buildingforensicsgroup.com/who-we-are/ for more information about the firm and our experts.