Greetings from Napa, California. Known mainly for its wonderful wines and fabulous weather, I have instead come here to stuff my brain with as much WUFI as it can hold. WUFI is a fabulously well designed moisture migration software tool that comes in a variety of versions. The first class I attended focused on WUFI Pro, the 1 dimensional moisture migration modeling tool.
If you were wanting to look at one point in a construction to see how it was fairing under a certain type of heat and moisture condition, that would be what WUFI Pro was designed for. This program allows you to construct a section, put it in a certain climate condition, even turn on or off the sun or rain depending on what other factors influence the conditions of that location (such as overhangs or shading from other sources) and then run a series of calculations over a time period that would represent the weather effects that can be expected over a measured time frame (which can be several years.) While this program does not yet take into consideration the effect of material degradation over time, it will give the indication of how a construction will fair through wetting and drying cycles (i.e. does it dry out, and how long does that take) as well as the propensity for it to experience freeze/thaw cycles.
The basic concept of this program is to provide you with the indications of what a construction will face and how it will react to a set of conditions. The value in the program is the ability to compare different types of constructions to see how they fair under identical conditions. With the ability to predict what conditions a construction will face, choices for materials, insulation levels, and surface protection can be better made. While this program will not tell you that a specific wall will fail, it will give you indications of the conditions that it can face that has caused failure in other walls, either through mold, rot, or rust. You can even introduce a leak to see what would happen, or add an air change system to see if it would improve the construction to an acceptable level.
The beauty of any of these modeling programs is the ability to build and rebuild, test and retest until you have what you consider to be the best solution for the project that you are working on without doing actual construction. You don’t need to wait years to see if it will fail, you could find out in a fairly short time that the choice you thought was a good one, might not be the best one.
As I cram all the wonderful training about WUFI that I possibly can into the old brain, I can feel it getting saturated. I have to stop, let it get absorbed, and then head back for more. And just when I thought I had my mind wrapped around the benefit that the WUFI Pro program is, they teased us with WUFI Plus – a 3D modeling program that will model all or part of a structure. Think of the ease of Sketchup combined with moisture migration modeling. I’ll cover that more in another blog entry – tonight I have homework. We studied the WUFI 3D program today and even though it is absolutely remarkable, I discovered the hard way that if you try to absorb too much WUFI you can get WUFI Brain which can make you so intent on the learning you forget to save your work. And as you all know, if the user doesn’t save, and your computer crashes, you lose it all. A very good friend of mine always says “Stupid should hurt.” It hurts even more when you know you did it to yourself. Try WUFI – but be smarter than me – save often!