November 21, 2018

Your Guide to a Winter-Proof Exterior, Texas Style

(Image source)

When someone mentions the weather in Texas, what do you think of? Never-ending, sweltering summers. But believe it or not, winter does come to the Lone Star State, and it’s important to take that into consideration when designing and constructing new buildings there.

From rapidly changing temperatures to storms, floods, and even occasional snow and ice, you’re up against a variety of weather factors. It can be hard to create a structure that can withstand a Texas winter, but not impossible.

 

Make Wise Window Choices 

(Image Source)

Because of the variation from intense summer heat to cool winters, you’ll want to partner closely with your suppliers when it’s time to select the right windows.

Well-insulated windows will make the building more comfortable, particularly in winter. According to Energy Guide, windows with high insulating values are also less likely to have problems when they come into contact with condensation from warm, moist indoor air.

Storm windows should be used when waterproofing your structure against storms. These can be costly when installed but are well worth the expense in the long run.

Make sure to pick windows that will work the best for the type of Texas winter your building will see.

 

Select the Right HVAC System

(Image Source)

There’s more to HVAC than heating and cooling. Humidity can play a big role in keeping the air at a comfortable temperature. The experts at Lennox Commercial offer a few suggestions to consider when deciding between a rooftop or split system:

  • Stage compressor(s) to match cooling capacity to cooling load requirements.
  • Select HVAC equipment with OEM-designed and integrated dehumidification systems.
  • Choose the appropriate sensible to latent ratio for dehumidification.
  • Choose simple controls for integrated dehumidification systems.

 

You can also put that Texas sun to work for you with a solar HVAC system. There are two main options:

  • Using solar panels to supplement the electrical draw of the compressor.
  • Diverting the refrigerant to an evacuated-tube solar thermal collector on the roof as part of the compressor's function of heating and compressing the refrigerant. This will then reduce the workload of the compressor.

 

Pay Attention to Pipes 

(Image Source)

When the temperature drops, exposed valves, pipes, and irrigation systems are at risk of freezing. Make sure to properly insulate and cover these vital systems. Also, take the time to evaluate the available pipe materials for the building’s purpose.

Apartment buildings, hospitals, and offices may have very different plumbing needs, but they all share the need for pipes to keep working, even during unpredictable winter weather. AAA Plumbers in Houston has some advice on selecting the right product to keep things flowing:

Copper Pipes: Highly durable, resists corrosion, safe for hot and cold water supplies, and can stand up to high pressure, making it an ideal choice for refrigerant lines and underground service conduits.

Stainless Steel Pipes: Expensive, but it is the preferred option for areas in which corrosion is a major concern and strength is a priority.

Cast-Iron Pipes: Designed to stand up to high pressure and carry large amounts of liquid. Cast-iron offers superior fire resistance and noise-suppression capabilities for waste disposal in apartment buildings and condominium complexes.

Brass Pipes: Rustproof and corrosion-resistant. Brass is among the most durable and longest lasting choices for commercial plumbing installations.

PEX Pipes: High tolerance for heat and cold. PEX can be bent around obstacles to allow easier installation and replacement, but it is not suitable for outdoor use because of its reactivity with ultraviolet light.

PVC Pipes: Reacts poorly to extended exposure to heat or ultraviolet light, which restricts its use primarily to indoor and drainage applications. PVC is usually rigid and require fittings to achieve turns and to avoid obstacles, and it will split or break rather than expand in freezing temperature conditions.

CPVC Pipes: An inexpensive choice. CPVC is capable of standing up to exposure to heat. It is usually approved for the delivery of drinking water and other water supply applications, but it will break rather than expand to accommodate freezing liquid.

 

Build With the Best Wall Materials 

(Image Source)

When you’re up against the potential for cold weather and high winds, the first step is to make sure your wall materials are up to the task.

If you are concerned about insulation and thermal mass, Bautex Blocks are a great choice for your walls. Bautex Block is also a FEMA rated hurricane and tornado safe room material, in addition to offering a four-hour load bearing fire rating. There’s nothing a Texas winter can dish out that it can’t withstand.

In addition to saving your client money on energy costs from improved insulation, it has noise reducing properties to create a quieter, healthier environment for the occupants. And Bautex Blocks are easy to install, saving you both time and money on labor costs as well.

 

Keep Air and Moisture Out 

(Image Source)

According to the National Weather Service, during the winter and spring, it is not unheard of to see temperature swings of 50 degrees or more within one calendar day. In addition to these temperature changes, Texas can see anything from rain and flooding to sleet and snow during the fall and winter months. This makes it critical to maintain an airtight seal, both for overall energy efficiency, as well as resistance to moisture penetration.

To achieve this air tightness, look into products like Bautex AMB 20 Air and Moisture Barrier which provides a tight and extremely energy-efficient building envelope that will meet, and even exceed, the requirements of most commercial and residential construction projects. They are easy to install and provide long-lasting energy efficiency and thermal performance.

(Image Source)

No matter what kind of building you’re designing, awareness is key. Don’t assume that winter isn’t a factor in Texas, where everything is bigger – even the weather.

Bautex is headquartered in San Marcos, Texas, and we want to share our expertise in constructing safe and efficient structures. Visit our website at www.bautexsystems.com or give us a call at (855) 922-8839 to discuss your latest project.