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Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
Phone: (608) 231-9200
Fax: (608) 231-9592


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Research Unit: Building and Fire Sciences (4716)

Building moisture and durability research focuses on extending the service life of wood products in buildings through improved building design and operation.
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Research Focus Areas

  • Advancing a performance-based approach to building design
  • Evaluating building performance through field and laboratory experiments and computer modeling
  • Investigating interior and exterior moisture loads on buildings
  • Measuring properties of wood products related to heat, air, and moisture transfer
  • Characterizing the durability of wood products

Moisture Performance Chamber

To address the need for research on wind-driven rain intrusion in walls, Forest Products Laboratory has developed the Chamber for Analytic Research on Wall Assemblies Exposed to Simulated Weather (CARWASh), a new, custom-designed moisture performance testing facility.

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This chamber enables realistic laboratory simulations of wind-driven rain impinging on full-scale wall assemblies. Individual tests can be programmed with weather data and set to run for weeks or months at a time. A computer data acquisition system records readings from a host of sensors.

Below is an excerpt from the Chamber for Analytic Research on Wall Assemblies Exposed to Simulated Weather (CARWASh) factsheet, the full copy which can be obtained here.
  • Investigate wind-driven rain intrusion in walls and drying rates after wetting events
  • Test innovative wall assemblies, window installations details, flashing and cladding products, drainage/drying details,and water-resistive barrier products
  • Provide experimental data for validation of heat, air, and moisture transfer models
  • Study the effects of air infiltration and exfiltration on moisture levels in walls with static or dynamic air pressure differences
  • Outdoor simulation chamber: 21 feet long, 18 feet wide, and 16 feet high
  • Test wall assembly for a straight wall: 10 feet wide by 10 feet high
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Simulation Parameters
  • Weather data can be taken from anywhere in the world, as limited by wind speed or temperature (we're not simulating hurricane conditions or cold climates)
  • We are interested in storm conditions producing wind-driven rain; coastal areas in the U.S. Southeast and Pacific Northwest are good examples
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Temperature Range
  • Outdoor chamber: 30°F to 110°F
  • Indoor chamber: 60°F to 80°F
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Humidity Range
  • Outdoor chamber: 25°F dew point to 80° dew point
  • Indoor chamber: 30% Relative Humidity (RH) to 70% RH
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Rainfall Range
  • 0.25 to 6 inches per hour                              
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Infrared Intensity (Simulating Sunlight)
  • 0 to 100 watts per square foot
Wind Speed
  • 2 to 25 mph (gusting up to 55 mph for up to 5 seconds can be simulated by pressurization)

Hygrothermal Properties Laboratory
This laboratory features new equipment and instrumentation for measuring hygrothermal properties (i.e., material physical properties related to heat, air, and moisture transfer) and characterizing the durability of materials:
  • Gravimetric vapor sorption analyzer for studying water vapor uptake
  • Environmental chambers with controlled temperature and humidity
  • Instrumentation for measuring water vapor transmission (isothermal and non-isothermal)
  • Heat flow meter apparatus for measuring thermal conductivity
  • Instrumentation for measuring electrical properties and corrosion