Construction Maintenance Electrician

Exterior Wall Components for Electrician Training and Beyond

December 13, 2019

become a maintenance electrician

When you study construction maintenance for electricians, you will have the opportunity to apply what you learn in the classroom to hands-on training. This will include working on skill sets for commercial, industrial and residential electricity, analyzing and preparing machine controls, and building an exterior wall, among other things.

Exterior building walls, on first glance, may just appear to be what you see from the outside. When you look at a building you may see materials like brick, cement, siding, or shingles. However, the construction of an exterior wall that is fit for its environment is a complex process that requires a lot of attention to detail and design. Here are a few important points about exterior wall components.

A Brief Introduction to Components for Electrician Training

During your electrician training it will become clear that understanding a building layout and how walls are constructed is important for maintaining electrical systems. The exterior wall assembly in particular helps protect the interior of a building from outside elements. This not only refers to providing shelter for people, but also keeping systems within the building running properly.

Here is a quick introduction to the components of exterior wall assembly:

  • Exterior cladding: this layer is chosen based on environmental conditions as well as aesthetics. It is the first, but not most important, defence against weather.
  • Air barrier, also known as air paper or house wrap: this is a weather resistant layer that allows moisture to escape.
  • Vapour control layer: moisture can build up in the exterior wall assembly without this component so it is typically required by building codes and regulations.
  • Insulation: this supports interior temperature control.
  • Structural element: this is the load bearing component (or components) that distributes weight and pressure to the structural frame of a building.
Insulation helps keep the interior of the building warm
Insulation helps keep the interior of the building warm

Interface Conditions

After you are introduced to the functions of each component of an exterior wall assembly it is important to understand how each component affects the whole. Essentially, the assembly must be able to control and mitigate moisture and protect the interior, including its electrical systems. The ways in which the components of the wall assembly are separated, joined and installed, are referred to as the interface conditions. For example, elements like flashing and end dams prevent excess rain from entering the dry zone of the assembly and may be necessary around windows, or where the wall meets the roof.

Examples of Common Materials

There are many standard materials for exterior wall assemblies that you might be familiar with even before you start maintenance electrician training. For example, Tyvek and Typar are two of the most common polyethylene air barriers. They let water vapour out, but eliminate exterior moisture, thus protecting wiring that may otherwise be vulnerable to moisture. Like tarpaper, another common air barrier, they can be damaged by UV rays.

For the exterior cladding some of the most common materials are cedar shingles, vinyl, cement board, stucco, brick, and a few others. Vinyl or steel siding can be applied directly to air paper. However, if you are using brick or stucco, the interface conditions dictate that a layer of rain screen siding may be required. At the very inside, the most common material is drywall. Overall, your expertise on each of these elements will be required as you work with building plans.

Exterior cladding can come in many different materials, such as stucco
Exterior cladding can come in many different materials, such as stucco

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