There is a large existing stock of uninsulated mass masonry buildings: their uninsulated walls result in poor energy performance, which is commonly addressed with the retrofit of interior insulation. Some durability issues associated with interior insulation have been or are being addressed, such as interstitial condensation and freeze-thaw damage issues.
However, another durability risk is the hygrothermal behaviour of moisture-sensitive wood beams embedded in the load-bearing masonry. Interior insulation reduces the beam end temperatures, reduces available drying potential, and results in higher relative humidity conditions in the beam pocket: all of these factors pose a greater risk to durability.
Three-dimensional thermal simulations were performed to examine the effect of interior insulation on embedded wood members. Simulations were run for the cases both of large wood members (“beams”) and smaller dimension lumber members (“joists”). In addition, simulations were run of various methods that would increase heat flow to the beam ends; the resulting effect on overall heat loss was also examined. This was followed by one-dimensional hygrothermal simulations to gain greater insight into the beam end behaviour, including airflow effects.


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