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Insect damage or mold contamination in or on fiberboard insulating sheathing used on or in buildings.
This article discusses the occurrence of insect damage in fiberboard sheathing used on roofs, walls, ceilings in buildings and on building exteriors.
This article series gives the efinition, ingredients, history, use, fire resistance & insulating properties of fiberboard sheathing. This article describes and provides photographs that aid in identifying various insulating board sheathing materials used on building walls and roofs, such as Homasote, Celotex, Insulite, and Masonite insulating board sheathing products.
Wood Boring Insect Susceptibility of Fiberboard Building Insulating Sheathing
We do not usually findinsect damage in fiberboard building insulating sheathing.
Possibly the resin binder and coating is unattractive to insects and the moisture resistance of some coatings also reduces the attractiveness of this material to termites or carpenter ants.
However in sufficiently challenging conditions such as very wet conditions or prolonged exposure to water and moisture or insects, we have found evidence of insect damage to an interior wall fiberboard sheathing product, probably Beaver board or Upson board (in the attic of a leaky building, below right).
[Click to enlarge any image]
Reader comment: insect attack through fiber-type flooring
(Feb 27, 2013) Teresa Mietus said:
I live in a 50's home.
Termites literally built an entire empire between the top and bottom layers of a fiber type floor board.
If not for the mud tunnels, the floor would have fallen through
! What you don't see - can hurt you.
Jester (2014).names silicate of soda, flour paste, glues, dextrin, plaster of paris, waterglass and clay, rosin, turpentine, paraffin wax (see Homasote®), asphalt (giving a nice dark black color to the fiberboard panels and making them unattractive to termites and carpenter ants). (Jester 2014 pp 90-90).
Photo above: low density fiberboard is not, however absolutely insect-proof, as my photo shows.
Research on Insect Damage to LDF & MDF Fiberboard Products & Preservation of Fiberboard Panels
This paper reports on the physical and mechanical properties and decay and termite resistance of fiberboard panels made from
pine and beech treated with N’-N-(1, 8-Naphthalyl) hydroxylamine sodium salt(NHA-Na),borax, and boric acid at varying loadings.
The panels were manufactured using10percent urea-formaldehyderesinand1percentNH4Cl. Mechanicalandphysical testsdemonstrated
no statistically significant reduction in modulus of rupture of specimens treated with borax +NHA-Nacompared to untreated
Similar result swere obtained for modulus of elasticity for all treatments at concentrations of 1 percent and lower.
Internal bond values of treated specimens were somewhat reduced in comparison with values of control specimens, but higher than
DIN EN 622-5 standards for medium density fiberboard.
Treated specimens showed increased resistance against the decay fungi
Fomitopsis palustris and Trametes versicolor and the Formosan subterranean termite Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki. For individual
treatments, specimens treated with borax and boric acid showed lowerweight loss compared to specimens treated with NHA-Na
alone. The possible synergy of borax+NHA-Naresulted in lowwater absorption, high modulus of elasticity, and increased resistance
to decay and termites.
Ayrilmis, Nadir. "Effect of fire retardants on internal bond strength and bond durability of structural fiberboard." Building and environment 42, no. 3 (2007): 1200-1206.
Chow, Poo. "Phenol adhesive bonded medium-density fiberboard from Quercus rubra L. bark and sawdust." Wood and fiber Science 11, no. 2 (2007): 92-98.
Indrayani, Yuliati, Dina Setyawati, Sasa Sofyan Munawar, Kenji Umemura, and Tsuyoshi Yoshimura. "Evaluation of termite resistance of medium density fiberboard (MDF) manufacture from agricultural fiber bonded with citric acid." Procedia Environmental Sciences 28 (2015): 778-782.
Jester, Thomas C., ed. Twentieth-century building materials: History and conservation. Getty Publications, 2014.
Kameshki, B. "Evaluation of particleboard treated with Preservation material (ACQ, and Evaluate of the durability of wood BFCA and Chlorothalonil) products against termite attack." PhD diss., University of Zabol, 2015.
Kartal, S. Nami, and Frederick Green Iii. "Decay and termite resistance of medium density fiberboard (MDF) made from different wood species." International biodeterioration & biodegradation 51, no. 1 (2003): 29-35.
Medium density fiberboard (MDF) production worldwide is increasing due to the development of new manufacturing technologies. As a result, MDF products are increasingly utilized in traditional wood applications that require fungal and insect resistance.
This study evaluated the ability of white and brown rot fungi and termites to decompose MDF consisting of different wood species by measuring weight loss. Furnish in the boards was prepared from heart and sapwood portions of pine (Pinus nigra Arnold var. pallasiana), beech (Fagus orientalis Lipsky), and European oak (Quercus robur L.) species. Fungal decay resistance tests were performed according to ASTM D 2017-81 standard method using two brown-rot fungi, Gloeophyllum trabeum (Pers. ex Fr.) Murr. (Mad 617), Postia placenta (Fries) M. Larsen et Lombard (Mad 698), and one white-rot fungus, Trametes versicolor (L. ex Ft.) Pilat (Mad 697).
MDF and wood specimens were also bioassayed against the eastern subterranean termite, Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar) in order to determine termite resistance of the specimens. MDF specimens containing oak and mixed furnish demonstrated increased durability against decay fungi. Only pine, oak, and mixed MDF specimens met the 25% or less weight loss limit to be classified resistant according to ASTM D 2017-81 standard method.
Overall, MDF specimens made from oak showed better performance than oak solid wood specimens. Accelerated aging according to ASTM D 1037-96a standard method before fungal bioassay decreased fungal resistance of the specimens. In contrast to the fungal bioassay, MDF specimens made from beech and mixed furnish showed decreased weight losses from termite attack after 4 weeks. However, none of the MDF specimens were resistant to termite attack.
In severe conditions, the MDFs may require the incorporation of chemical biocides prior to board production for increasing the resistance of MDF to termite attack.
Porter, William H. "High strength structural insulated panel." U.S. Patent 6,599,621, issued July 29, 2003.
Savoy, T.L., Afm Corporation, 1993. Building material with protection from insects, molds, and fungi. U.S. Patent 5,270,108.
Winter IV, Amos G. "Prefabricated building panel having an insect and fungicide deterrent therein." U.S. Patent 5,224,315, issued July 6, 1993.
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 Homasote® Company, 932 Lower Ferry Road, West Trenton, NJ 08628-0240 Tel: 800-257-9491 Ext 1332, or from outside the U.S. call 609-883-3300. Website: http://www.homasote.com/ , Email: Sales@homasote.com.
Thanks to Homasote CEO Warren Flicker for technical review and comment on this article.
Mark Cramer Inspection Services Mark Cramer, Tampa Florida, Mr. Cramer is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors and is a Florida home inspector and home inspection educator. Mr. Cramer serves on the ASHI Home Inspection Standards. Contact Mark Cramer at: 727-595-4211 mark@BestTampaInspector.com
John Cranor is an ASHI member and a home inspector (The House Whisperer) is located in Glen Allen, VA 23060. He is also a contributor to InspectApedia.com in several technical areas such as plumbing and appliances (dryer vents). Contact Mr. Cranor at 804-747-7747 or by Email: email@example.com
 Celotex Corporation, PO Box 31602, Tampa FL 33631, with offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Oakland and Philadelphia, and plants in six U.S. States is headquartered in Tampa, FL. Celotex is a national manufacturer of residential and commercial building materials. Website: www.celotex.com Tel: 800-CELOTEX
"Insulation Selector Guide", Celotex Corporation, web search 6/29/12, original source: http://www.silvercote.com/PDF/ThermaxInsulSelectorGuide.pdf, [copy on file as CelotexThermaxInsulSelectorGuide.pdf ]
"Celotex Blue Ridge Fiberboard", SturdyBrace®, produced by Blue Ridge Fiberboard Inc., 250 Celotex Dr., Danville VA 24541, product literature, web search 6/29/2012, original source: blueridgefiberboard.com/pages/sturdybrace.php, [Copy on file as Celotex_BlueRidge_SturdyBrace.pdf].
MSDS: original source: blueridgefiberboard.com/pages/sturdybrace/pdfs/SturdyBrace-msds-br.pdf
"Guide Specifications: SturdyBrace® Structural Fiberboard Wall Sheathing", 6/29/12, original source: blueridgefiberboard.com/pages/sturdybrace.php [Copy on file as SturdyBrace-guidespecs.pdf]
 Douglas Leen, Petersburg AK 99833, contributed the photograph of insulating board scraps from roof insulation removed from a building. Dr. Leen provides such a wide range of services, collectables, and historical information about the Northwest that a succinct description is difficult: flying dentist goes anywhere, antique forestry posters, historic campers, the tugboat Katahdin, in Alaska, Washington, and Wyoming. Mr. Leen can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 907-518-0335
 Georgia Pacific: information about DensGlas gypsum board building sheathing can be found at the company's website at gp.com/build/product.aspx?pid=4674
 Pittsburgh Press, "Yesterday - in costly homes alone, Today even the simplest home can have this hidden comfort", The Pittsburgh Press, 19 April 1925, classified ads section. Web search 6/22/12, [Copy on file as Celotex_Ad_023_PP.jpg and more]
 pending research
Patents pertaining to building insulation & insulating board, Celotex & Insulating Board type products
"Sound absorbing board for walls and ceilings", Patent No. 1,554,180, issued to W.S. Trader, September 15,1925, first disclosed a wallboard constructed from "Celotex", a felted mass of strong bagasse fibers, so compacted as to be capable of use as an artificial lumber in that it can be sawed and nailed, and has sufficient strength in many cases to be substituted for lumber. That same patent mentions "Insulite", a building board made from wood pulp tailings and which likewise has a porous fibrous body portion and which is possessed of considerable strength so that the same can be nailed, etc. Celotex was preferred as an insulating material because its internal cells produce a sound-deadening insulating effect.
"Method and apparatus for drying moving material", Treadway B. Munroe et als, assigned to Dahlberg & Co., U.S. Patent No. 1,598,980, 7 September 1926, described a method and apparatus for drying sheets of artificial heat insulating lumber, known on the market as Celotex, improving the original process.
"Reenforced composition board", Treadway B. Munroe et als, U.S. Patent No. 1,578,344, 30 March 1926
"Insulating Structural Board", U.S. Patent 2,159,300, Armen H. Tashjian et als, assigned to William B. Miller, Lakewood OH, 23 May 1939, describes insulating structural boards of laminated construction for use as roof or floor slabs, and refers to "Standard insulating fiber boards, such as "Celotex", "Masonite", "Insulite", etc. that had excellent insulating properties but have relatively slight structural strength in flexure or bending under load, hence are not and cannot be used as structural slabs for load sustaining purposes, as roof or floor slabs, for example. [Adding structural strength ran into the problem of reducing the insulating value of the product.]
"Sound-absorbing chamber", Treadway B. Munroe et als, U.S. Patent No. 1,705,778, 19 March 1929 (using Celotex to construct a sound deadening chamber.
"Method of and apparatus for drying moving material", U.S. Patent 2,376,612, Carl G. Muench, New Orleans, assigned to Celotex Corporation, described a method and apparatus for drying sheets of artificial heat insulating lumber, preferably formed by the felting of bagasse fiber along with other materials necessary to make a satisfactory structural fiber board. 22 May 1945
"Sound-absorbing board for walls and ceilings," U.S. Patent 1,554,180, Sept. 15, 1925, Wilber S. Trader, assignor to Dahlberg & Company, Chicago IL. described an interior-use sound insulating product.
 "Insulite Co. v. Reserve Supply Co.," 60F.2d 433 (1932), Circuit Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit, July 26, 1932. Web Search t/23/12. Quoting:
Rabbeted joints in material to which plaster or other material is applied are found in the Jones patent, No. 886,813. In this patent the composition is made up of plaster of paris, cement, or other like substance, combined with hair, wood fiber, sawdust, wool, wood shavings, excelsior, straw, or similar substances. The length of the lath covers three joists instead of four. The boards are arranged in staggered relation to each other and the joints are shiplapped. The specification states that after the boards or blocks are placed in position they may be covered with wallpaper or other similar material, which, of course, would include plaster.
"Machine for perforating Insulite Boards", U.S. Patent No. 1,306,283, Patented 10 June 1919, John K. Shaw, inventor from Minneapolis MN, describes improvements for machines for perforating Insulite Boards.
"Before you Build write for this mailing piece and a sample of Insulite", [advertisement], The Literary Digest, 13 September 1940.
 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, web search 6/22/12, original source: http://cameo.mfa.org/browse/record.asp?subkey=3644 [Copy on file as MFAB_Fiberboard.pdf]
 "Separating the Fiber of Wood", A.S. Lyman, U.S. Patent No. 21,077, 3 August 1858
 Standards pertaining to fiberboard insulating sheathing:
ASTM C 208-95 (2001) – Standard Specification for Cellulosic Fiber Insulating Board. Type IV Grade 2 (Structural Wall Sheathing).
ASTM C 846-94 (2003) – Application of Cellulosic Fiber Insulating Board for Wall Sheathing.
ASTM D 1554 - Definitions of terms Relating to Wood Based Fiber and Particle Panel Materials.
ASTM E-72 (1997)- Standard Method for Conducting Strength Tests of Panels for Building Construction.
ANSI /AHA - A194.1, Cellulosic Fiberboard.
U.S. Department of Commerce: PS57-73, Cellulosic Fiber Insulating Board
A.F.A. (2003): Fiberboard Sheathing test results
 "Properties of insulating fiberboard sheathing",
Forest Products Laboratory (U.S.)
Luxford, R. F. (Ronald Floyd), 1889 (1960), original report 1955, citation:hdl.handle.net/1957/2489, web search 6/29/12, original source: http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/handle/1957/2489
Design of Wood Structures - ASD, Donald E. Breyer, Kenneth Fridley, Kelly Cobeen, David Pollock, McGraw Hill, 2003, ISBN-10: 0071379320, ISBN-13: 978-0071379328
This book is an update of a long-established text dating from at least 1988 (DJF); Quoting: This book is gives a good grasp of seismic design for wood structures. Many of the examples especially near the end are good practice for the California PE Special Seismic Exam design questions. It gives a good grasp of how seismic forces move through a building and how to calculate those forces at various locations.THE CLASSIC TEXT ON WOOD DESIGN UPDATED TO INCLUDE THE LATEST CODES AND DATA. Reflects the most recent provisions of the 2003 International Building Code and 2001 National Design Specification for Wood Construction. Continuing the sterling standard set by earlier editions, this indispensable reference clearly explains the best wood design techniques for the safe handling of gravity and lateral loads. Carefully revised and updated to include the new 2003 International Building Code, ASCE 7-02 Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures, the 2001 National Design Specification for Wood Construction, and the most recent Allowable Stress Design.
Diagnosing & Repairing House Structure Problems, Edgar O. Seaquist, McGraw Hill, 1980 ISBN 0-07-056013-7 (obsolete, incomplete, missing most diagnosis steps, but very good reading; out of print but used copies are available at Amazon.com, and reprints are available from some inspection tool suppliers). Ed Seaquist was among the first speakers invited to a series of educational conferences organized by D Friedman for ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors, where the topic of inspecting the in-service condition of building structures was first addressed.
Defects and Deterioration in Buildings: A Practical Guide to the Science and Technology of Material Failure, Barry Richardson, Spon Press; 2d Ed (2001), ISBN-10: 041925210X, ISBN-13: 978-0419252108. Quoting: A professional reference designed to assist surveyors, engineers, architects and contractors in diagnosing existing problems and avoiding them in new buildings. Fully revised and updated, this edition, in new clearer format, covers developments in building defects, and problems such as sick building syndrome. Well liked for its mixture of theory and practice the new edition will complement Hinks and Cook's student textbook on defects at the practitioner level.
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: email@example.com. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
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