Extreme Weather Hits Home – Weblog

November 27, 2007

Infrared Camera Sales and Investigations

Filed under: Thermal Imaging — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 5:03 pm

Missing Insulation in attic   Missing Attic Insulation

courtesy of Fluke

There are several places in Extreme Weather Hits Home, Protecting Your Buildings From Climate Change  where I discuss the use of thermal imaging as a diagnostic tool for identifying “cold bridging” “surfaces with condensation” “heat loss” and other building related problems that can be diagnosed by having a qualified thermographer scan your building.

The above image shows missing attic insulation which not only wastes energy, but may also lead to ice damming.

If your are interested in purchasing thermal imaging equipment and learning to use it for moisture and building related investigations, I can personally recommend you contact Rod Hoff. Rod and I both work for Restoration Consultants. Rod is our national sales representative for the Fluke IR Fusion Thermal Imaging Camera. He and I teach a two day class in using thermal imaging for building investigations especially focusing on moisture diagnostics.
Rod Hoff
Restoration Consultants – MoistureView

3284 Ramos Circle
Sacramento, CA 95827
(916) 736-1100 ext 301

Locating a Thermographer

If you are interested in locating a thermographer click on the comments below. Please note these are self listings. I can’t vouch for the proficiency of anyone that is listed. If you have used their services and would like to comment please feel free to add a comment. 

Contractor’s Corner

Filed under: Contractor Listings — John Banta @ 2:28 pm


I was recently featured on a radio talk show where the host asked me where people could find contractors interested in sustainable more resilient home building, remodeling and repairs consistent with recommendations in my book.

 I was momentarily stumped – then realized this blog is a good opportunity to address that.

If you are looking for a contractor or are a like minded contractor and would like your services listed – go to your state catagory, scroll down to “contractor listing” and click on comments to find a listing, or add a comment to add your listing in the following format:

City, State

Your Name

Your Company

Contact Information

Services Offered described in 25 words or less. If you are a licenced contractor include your license number.

California Contractors Listings

Filed under: California — Tags: , , — John Banta @ 2:16 pm

To see the services listed for this state – open the comments. 

These are self listings and have not been evaluated by me. If you have positive or negative experiences with any of the services listed here – Please feel free to comment on them.

November 26, 2007


Filed under: Washington — Tags: , , — John Banta @ 3:22 pm

Regions containing expansive clay soil in this state vary. If you have concerns consult an experienced geologist.


Adapted from the “Swelling Clays Map Of The Conterminous United States” by W.W. Olive, A.F. Chleborad, C.W. Frahme, Julius Schlocker, R.R. Schneider, and R.L Shuster; 1989

Red Unit contains abundant clay having high swelling potential
Blue Part of unit (generally less than 50%) consists of clay having high swelling potential
Orange    Unit contains abundant clay having slight to moderate swelling potential
Green Part of unit (generally less than 50%) consists of clay having slight to moderate swelling potential
Brown Unit contains little or no swelling clay
Yellow Data insufficient to indicate clay content of unit and/or swelling potential of clay (Shown in westernmost states only)

To see the services listed for this state – open the comments. 

These are self listings and have not been evaluated by me. If you have positive or negative experiences with any of the services listed here – Please feel free to comment on them.

November 21, 2007

Basement Moisture Issues

Filed under: Answers to Questions — Tags: , , — John Banta @ 8:40 pm

Hi John,

I tuned in to WPR with Ben Merens earlier this week.  You were the guest and I heard you answer a question about how to deal with 100 year old block and mortar basement walls.  I was driving and could not write down the name of the plaster product that you recommended. The additional issue I have with my basement walls is that the previous owner painted them.
A lot of the paint is flaking off, but a lot is not.  I also notice the salty fuzzy stuff you were talking about.  What is the best way for me to deal with these walls to  preserve them and to make them look a little more uniform and attractive?  Also, there are a couple of cracks.  Any suggestions

Thanks much for sharing your time and knowledge.


Hi Barb,

A link to my interview with Ben is now posted on this blog under radio interviews, so you can listen to it again.  Here is some information on the topic from page 177 in my book Extreme Weather Hits Home, Protecting your Building from Climate Change:

Efflorescence and Spalling
“Efflorescence is generally a white- or light-colored powdery salt deposit that forms on damp masonry surfaces. It is sometimes confused with mold growth, but mold requires an organic nutrient like cellulose. Efflorescence is especially common after flooding has saturated masonry materials or in situations with inadequate drainage. As moisture flows through brick, concrete block, stone and other masonry materials it carries dissolved salts along. When the water reaches the surface of the material it evaporates, depositing the salt on the surface of the material. As long as the moisture can escape and doesn’t build up, the salt deposits are harmless, although unsightly. Placing a nutritive material such as gypsum wallboard against masonry materials exhibiting efflorescence will generally result in mold growth on the gypsum paper.”

“Some people have tried to halt the flow of moisture and salts by sealing the surface of the masonry. This reduces the flow of moisture and the salts no longer reach the surface where they can be seen. At first it may seem like a reasonable solution. The problem is the moisture flow still occurs, although at a reduced rate, so the salts continue to build up just under the layer of masonry instead of forming on the surface of the material. This sets up an osmotic gradient that can result in hydrostatic pressure causing the masonry to lose its structural integrity and slough away in a process called spalling. Most people have observed this in sidewalks or other cement with a thin layer of material that has come off in a sheet. Once the masonry has spalled, the flow of moisture and salts resumes and the efflorescence once again builds up on the surface. Repeated applications of sealant will repeatedly spall until the masonry’s structural integrity has been damaged. Many historic buildings, foundations and basements have been significantly damaged by the application of sealants. A better method for dealing with efflorescence on masonry is to coat the offending surface with a parge coat of plaster. This is a plaster material that is slightly softer and more porous than the masonry. As the moisture flows through the masonry, it continues through the parge coat and evaporates from the surface, but the salts remain behind in the parge coat. Eventually, when the salts become concentrated enough, the parge coat will slough away from the masonry and require cleaning and recoating with another layer of parge plaster. Since it is the parge that sloughs off instead of the masonry spalling away, there is no loss of structural integrity or damage to the masonry. Parge coats can provide very attractive finishes and are often dyed with mineral pigments to add color to the surface.”

There are a number of different parge coat plasters available. Thoroseal Foundation Coating http://thoroproducts.com/pdf_appl/appl_foundation.pdf can act as a parge coating when used as directed but is not considered a decorative coating.

You might consider using the Thoroseal Foundation Coating as the parge coat then a second coat of Thoroseal Water Proof Cement Based Coating http://thoroproducts.com/pdf_appl/appl_thoroseal.pdf  for an attractive top coat.

You may want to check out some web-sites that describe the process of applying a parge coating. It can be similar to applying plaster, Its heavy, hard work – so many people don’t want to do it themselves. If you do decide to try it yourself, practice in an inconspicuous place to make sure you can make it look smooth and attractive.

After re-reading your question I realized I didn’t address the paint. In order for a parge coat to stick the paint would need to be removed. My concern is that based on the age and condition, it is very likely that it contains lead.

The company I work for – RestCon Environmental can arrange for lead testing. Please send me a email at jbanta@restcon.com to set this up.

John Banta

November 19, 2007

Draft of IPCC 4th Report Posted

Filed under: Global warming — Tags: , , , , — John Banta @ 8:11 am


The fourth and final part of the IPCC’s 2007 report has been posted in draft from and can be accessed at: http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr_spm.pdf

 Some highlights include:

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level,”

“Eleven of the last twelve years (1995-2006) rank among the twelve warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature (since 1850) … The temperature increase is widespread over the globe, and is greater at higher northern latitudes … Land regions have warmed faster than the oceans.”

Responses to some recent extreme events reveal higher levels of vulnerability than the Third Assessment Report. There is now higher confidence in the projected increases in droughts, heatwaves, and floods as well as their adverse impacts.”

An introductory slide show is at: http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/presentations/pachauri-un_nyc_2007-09-07.pdf

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