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Historical Figures: Roofing Realities

This week we’ve taken a journey through the history of key inventions in the home improvement industry such as insulation, electricity, and lighting, so it’s only natural that today we focus on another key area: roofing. As you likely guessed from the insulation blog post, thatched roofing styles made from straw or grass, or clay/tile roofs were the norm for many decades, and it wasn’t until recently (in the last 100 years) that roofing has evolved into the asphalt-shingles we know today. For an interesting read on the history of the composition and style of the asphalt shingle market, check out the following link, which credits Henry Reynolds as the inventor of the first asphalt shingle: http://asphaltmagazine.com/roofing-101/#:~:text=In%201903%2C%20Henry%20Reynolds%20%E2%80%93%20a,8%E2%80%9D%20x%2016%E2%80%9D%20pieces.

While we do not provide this style, it’s important to celebrate the marvel that is dome-style roofing. For a brief history, and a few examples of this type of architecture, check out the following link on PBS.org: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/buildingbig/dome/basics.html

I believe we’re still a few years out from an affordable and reliable solar-shingled roofing product, though it is a comfort to know that Tesla is already producing this material, and hopefully that trend will continue: https://www.tesla.com/solarroof.

For more roofing industry insights, or if you have questions about the durability of your own roof, please give us a call today for a free quote.

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Historical Figures: Electric Discoveries, Part 2

If you’ve been following along this week, you might already know where this story is headed, however the observations that led humanity to electric lighting where certainly unexpected at the time of their discoveries. While the source we’ve been using thus far to discuss the history of electricity is helpful (here’s the link: https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-electricity-1989860#:~:text=Ben%20Franklin%2C%20Henry%20Cavendish%2C%20and,first%20practical%20application%20of%20electricity), it leaves out one crucial person responsible for aggregating many of the previous findings and creating a historical record of electricity in his book titled, “The history and Present Stare of Electricity, With Original Experiments” which allowed countless others to further this exploratory work: Joseph Priestly. Some of Priestley’s most important work, in my opinion, included the initial findings of conductivity – please see the quote below from encyclopedia.com (https://www.encyclopedia.com/people/science-and-technology/chemistry-biographies/joseph-priestley):

His experiments relate primarily to conductivities of different substances, although he also examined other modes of the motion of the electrical fluid. He discovered the conductivities of charcoal and of metallic salts, ranged the metals in a table of comparative conductivities, first noted the distinctive marks left by spark discharges on metallic surfaces—now known as “Priestley’s rings”—and examined the phenomena of “electric wind” and sideflash. His most remarkable electrical discovery came as an interpretation of an experiment by Franklin. From the observation that pith balls lowered within an electrified metallic cup were not influenced by electricity, Priestley deduced, on Newtonian grounds, the inverse-square form of the force law between electrical charges. The publication of this deduction in the History passed nearly unnoticed (as had that of Daniel Bernoulli in 1760), but it probably inspired Cavendish’s subsequent experimental determination of the force law.”

By combining and honing the information on electricity and conductivity, as well as requesting direct critiques from the experimenters themselves, Priestly was able to pass on a plethora of generational knowledge to other scientists who would later continue this important work. His book potentially led Henry Cavendish to his discovery of electric attraction and repulsion and his own discoveries on conductivity – priming us for Charles-Augustin de Coulomb’s famous “Coulomb’s law” which states the direct inverse relationship between electrostatic repulsion and attraction (see below).

Coulombs Law

In case you’re curious about the chemistry implications of this equation (which essentially hold our entire world together), click on the image to check out the source.

Priestley, Cavendish, and Coulomb’s works gave rise to another scientist, who’s name you might recognize: Alessandro Volta. While Volta has a plethora of findings, one of his most significant contributions to the world of electricity was the worlds first battery (https://www.thoughtco.com/alessandro-volta-1992584). As you can see from this link, the words “volt” and “photovoltaic” are credited to him.

It would still be roughly 80 years before we saw the first incandescent light bulb that led to harnessing light in street lamps and homes, but the painstaking work would may have taken even longer without these amazing discoveries. More to come on that in tomorrow’s post!

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Historical Figures: Insulation Inventors

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine how on earth an American home – and all of the gadgets and technology within them – came to be. How did people learn to add weather stripping to the bottom of the door frame that would be durable to withstand being walked on, but also flexible enough to seal the door from air flowing in or out? How did we get from straw roof-tops to the asphalt-laden tiles you see on rooftops today? While I don’t have all of the answers, I did come across a few interesting inventions that brought us closer to the home improvements we see today.

For example, did you know humans used to use asbestos in homes, on purpose, for insulation?! It wasn’t until the 1980’s that Asbestos bans started cropping up all over the world, even though it is still used today in some projects in the U.S.: https://www.asbestos.com/mesothelioma-lawyer/legislation/ban/

Mud has been used as a natural insulator in buildings for centuries! In fact, mud homes are still popular all over the world today, including in India and other parts of the world where dry heat is common, https://www.downtoearth.org.in/indepth/mud-housing-is-the-key-30237, and in Ghana the industry for mud homes is even being perfected by the work of Joelle Eyeson and the team at Hive Earth, https://www.dw.com/en/in-ghana-new-updated-mud-houses-could-be-the-future/a-47536312 – how beautiful! 

One type of mud building you’ve likely seen before is adobe. This ancient technology is used all over the world, and has been for thousands of years – from New Mexico to New Zealand, https://www.solidearth.co.nz/earthbuilding-information/building-with-adobe-brick-technique/, and back again. For all you want to know about the construction of adobe and more, feel free to check out the following article for more information: https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-adobe-sustainable-energy-efficient-177943.

If you’re more familiar with the pinkish foam-like substance between your walls, you can thank Dale Kleist for his invention of Fiberglass Insulation: https://www.pjfitz.com/blog/insulation-installation/home-improvement-history-lessons-insulation/#:~:text=When%20researcher%20Dale%20Kleist%20attempted,became%20popular%20in%20the%201940s. According to this article, in the 1940’s Kleist was attempting “to create a vacuum seal between two glass blocks, an accidental stream of high-pressured air turned some of the glass into thin fibers. These fibers became the base of fiberglass insulation.” This is just one of the few types of insulation we use today when installing Owens Corning products – check out our link with more information, here: https://www.owenscorning.com/en-us/insulation/residential.

Insulation is essential in the energy discussion. As we just saw in Texas during the winter storm, proper insulation can trap heat in your home – even when your power is cut off – and can keep your home cool in the summer during those triple-digit days. If you have questions about the insulation quality in your home, call us today!

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