Test method to quantify the wicking properties of porous insulation materials designed to prevent interstitial condensation
Applying an interior insulation often is the only option for a thermal retrofit, especially when heritage buildings are concerned. In doing so, the original construction becomes colder in winter and interstitial condensation may occur. The common way to avoid harmful condensation beneath the interior insulation of the external wall is the installation of a vapor barrier. Since such a barrier works both ways, it may adversely affect the drying potential of the wall during the warmer seasons. One way to avoid the problems described is the installation of an interior insulation system without a vapor barrier to the inside. Here, the effect of capillary transport in porous hydrophilic media is used to conduct condensing moisture away from the wall/insulation interface back to the surface in contact with the indoor air. Following an increasing demand, several water wicking insulation materials (e.g. Calcium-silicate, Autoclave Aerated Concrete based mineral foam, hydrophilic Glass fiber, Cellulose fiber) have appeared on the market. In the past, different methods have been developed to measure and describe the liquid transport properties of hydrophilic porous media. However, the evaluation of the moisture transport mechanisms and their efficiency in this special field of implementation is very complex because of the interacting vapor- and liquid moisture transfer processes. Therefore, there is no consensus yet on its determination and quantification.