Answers are provided at the bottom of this column; don’t peek until you’ve finished the quiz.
1. True or false: In freezing climates, a drainback solar hot water system circulates ordinary water (without any antifreeze) through its solar collectors.
2. Which of the following statements best describes the “cold OSB problem”?
(a) OSB sheathing is more at risk when stud cavities are filled with thick insulation than thin insulation.
(b) When OSB gets very cold, the adhesive that binds the wood flakes may fail.
(c) OSB can fail if it is covered on the exterior with a thick layer of rigid foam.
(d) Researchers have not succeeded in developing an OSB sleeping bag.
3. The International Residential Code includes a table listing prescriptive requirements for insulation and windows. The column labeled “fenestration U-factor” shows:
(a) Minimum U-factors for windows.
(b) Maximum U-factors for windows.
(c) The confusion rate for readers with low Understanding Factors (i.e., low U-factors) who are forced to decipher code documents.
4. Which of these statements is true?
(a) No roof assembly can dry to the exterior.
(b) All roof assemblies can dry to the exterior.
(c) Some roof assemblies can dry to the exterior.
(d) Roofs in Seattle are always wet.
5. Which of these statements is most likely to be true for a certified Passivhaus?
(a) The house has Zehnder windows, a Siga heat-recovery ventilator, and Intus tape.
(b) The house has Intus windows, a Zehnder heat-recovery ventilator, and Siga tape.
(c) The house has Siga windows, an Intus heat-recovery ventilator, and Zehnder tape.
(d) The windows cost too much.
6. Compared to exhaust-only ventilation systems, heat-recovery ventilation (HRV) systems have several advantages. Which of the following statements is false?
(a) HRV systems do a better job of distributing fresh air than exhaust-only systems.
(b) Unlike exhaust-only systems, HRV systems draw air from a known location.
(c) HRV systems use less electricity than exhaust-only systems.
(d) Although HRV systems cost more to install than exhaust-only systems, an HRV installed in a cold climate can save money in the long run compared to an exhaust-only system.
7. Which of the following statements is true?
(a) It’s easier to keep south-facing windows from causing overheating problems than west-facing windows.
(b) In a cold climate, you can’t have too much south-facing glazing.
(c) If you are choosing a sloped building site in a cold climate, a north-facing slope is preferable to a south-facing slope.
(d) An earthship is a sailboat made of old tires and rammed earth.
8. To reduce the cooling load of a hot-climate house, which of the following measures is least likely to help?
(a) Specifying windows with a low solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC).
(b) Moving ductwork from the unconditioned attic to a location inside the home’s thermal envelope.
(c) Specifying wall insulation with a higher R-value than the minimum code requirement.
9. In climate zone 3, a proposed cathedral ceiling contains 6 inches of closed-cell spray foam on the underside of the OSB roof sheathing. Above the sheathing is a layer of Titanium UDL synthetic roofing underlayment and asphalt shingle roofing. This roof assembly doesn’t meet code. To make the assembly code-compliant:
(a) The roof assembly needs a higher R-value.
(b) There needs to be a ventilation channel between the top of the insulation and the underside of the roof sheathing.
(c) The builder has to choose a different roofing underlayment.
10. Which of the following statements is true?
(a) Heating a house with ductless minisplit units usually costs more than heating a house with fuel oil.
(b) In most climates, a single minisplit unit can heat a small single-family house with an open floor plan, but the bedrooms are likely to be colder than the living room in winter if the bedroom doors are closed.
(c) Air-source heat pumps can’t be depended on for heat when the outdoor temperature drops below 20°F.
(d) Everyone agrees that a ductless minisplit head is a stylish way to spruce up the appearance of your living room wall.
11. Which of these answers best describes the conditions under which condensation develops on the exterior side of triple-glazed windows?
(a) When the indoor humidity is high.
(b) When the outdoor humidity is high.
(c) When the sky is very clear and the morning air is cool.
(d) When your neighbor comes over to admire your expensive new triple-glazed windows.
12. Which of the following appliances does not have a condensate drain?
(a) A natural gas clothes dryer.
(b) A heat-pump water heater.
(c) The outdoor unit of a ductless minisplit system.
(d) A condensing furnace.
13. Stains on asphalt roofing are most often caused by:
(d) Santa’s reindeer.
14. A copy-editor is reviewing an article on a certified Passivhaus. The original document is smudged and hard to read. Which of these numbers is the most likely value of the blower-door test?
(a) 58 ach50
(b) 5.8 ach50
(c) .58 ach50
15. Joe Lstiburek walks into a new house in Houston, Texas. The homeowner proudly announces that the ventilation system is providing fresh air at the rate recommended by the 2013 version of ASHRAE 62.2. Which of the following statements is Joe most likely to make?
(a) “That’s the best ventilation standard in America. It sounds like your builder knew what he was doing.”
(b) “For crying out loud, reduce the ventilation rate!”
(c) “Fresh air is healthy. You need to ventilate at a higher rate.”
16. The main difficulty encountered by builders who install mineral wool insulation on the exterior side of wall sheathing is:
(a) It can be hard to get the furring strips co-planar.
(b) Mineral wool insulation restricts a wall’s ability to dry to the exterior.
(c) Mineral wool insulation must be protected from rain during construction.
17. If you want to install exterior rigid foam on your walls in a cold climate, thin foam is riskier than thick foam. Which of these statements provides the best explanation of this problem?
(a) Thin foam is not as good at resisting inward solar vapor drive.
(b) Thin foam is unable to keep the OSB or plywood wall sheathing above the dew point in cold weather.
(c) Thin foam is more likely to compress, leading to wavy siding installations.
(d) Walls have to breathe.
18. Time for a cool roofing question: Which one of the following statements is true?
(a) Emissivity is the same as emittance.
(b) Solar reflectance is the same as thermal emittance.
(c) Permeance is the same as permeability.
(d) Most HVAC contractors know how to perform accurate load calculations.
19. Which of the following statements best describes the phenomenon of condensation?
(a) When warm, humid air comes in contact with a cold, hard surface, droplets of water form on the surface.
(b) When cold, dry air comes in contact with a warm, hard surface, droplets of water form on the surface.
(c) When cold, humid air comes in contact with a warm, hard surface, droplets of water form on the surface.
(d) I’m supposed to remember to use a coaster, or else my beer can will leave a ring on the coffee table.
20. Wolfgang Feist, Katrin Klingengerg, Mike Eliason, and Bronwyn Barry walked into a bar in Laramie, Wyoming. The bouncer (who was a part-time Passive House consultant) flinched when he saw the gang of four approach, and insisted that they all surrender their handguns at the door. Surprisingly, the four customers shared a table, and after they finished their first round of drinks, it became clear that they were all getting along famously. The bartender, who was eavesdropping, realized that they were telling Joe Lstiburek jokes. He heard Dr. Feist ask, “What do you call a famous building scientist who gets thrown out of a bar?”
(a) Dr. Lstiburek.
(c) A bounced Czech.
Answers. 1: a. 2: a. 3: b. 4: c. 5: b (and perhaps d). 6: c. 7: a. 8: c. 9: b or c. 10: b. 11: c. 12: a. 13: a. 14: c. 15: b. 16: a. 17: b. 18: a. 19: a. 20. c.
Martin Holladay’s previous blog: “All About Radon.”