How Moisture Can Cause Problems in Your Home

turned-on-clear-light-bulbs-818760 (1)It is estimated that up to 90% of home repairs are due to excess moisture in the home, which is why ventilation of your home is so crucial. Moisture is in the air. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be able to breathe! And moisture always moves from wet to dry. If there is a moisture problem in your home, your goal should be to stop air that is carrying the moisture from entering your home or attic.

Home Dynamics That Increase Moisture

  • Time of year. During the colder months, outside temperatures often require windows and doors to remain shut, so moisture can’t get out of the house like it can when the outside air is warmer, such as in the spring or summer. During the warmer months, homeowners can open their doors and windows more often to take advantage of and enjoy a nice breeze.
  • Number and age of people in your home. If you have a lot of people living in your home and several of them tend to take long showers or baths, you will have an increase of humidity in your home. Do you have large gatherings over the holidays or for special celebrations? If so, you may notice condensation on your windows because of all the extra people in your home. Most likely, with more people in your home, there will also be an increase in cooking!
  • Lifestyle habits. Cooking or frying anything produces moisture. Opening your oven, washing dishes, boiling a pot of water, or opening the dishwasher just after it’s completed a wash can produce moisture in your home.

Potential Signs of Moisture Problems In Your Home

  • Ice dams on your roof may indicate excessive heat in your attic, air leaks, or not enough insulation or ventilation.
  • “Hot spots” on your roof where snow is melting may indicate potential air leakage, such as around skylights or vents.
  • Mold inside your home is caused by high relative humidity in the air which condenses on cold surfaces in your walls or ceilings for extended periods of time, in addition to the home simply leaking rain or snow into the walls or attics.
  • Window condensation may indicate that it is either too cold inside your home, or that the moisture level inside your home is too high. Fix this by running your bath or kitchen exhaust fans for 35-40 minutes after showering/bathing/cooking but be sure that these fans are exhausting to the exterior of your home, and not just into the kitchen or into an attic. Exhausting into the attic can cause big issues and should be remedied. A humidistat, which can be purchased at your local hardware or big box store, or online, placed somewhere in the home is helpful. It is recommended that you keep humidity in the home at 35-40% in the winter months.

Simple Solutions

Your overall goal is to increase your indoor air quality and comfort. You should do this by controlling moisture, air and heat transfers in your home. Other solutions may include:

  • Have an existing crawl space sprayed with insulating foam and sealed properly.
  • Install more insulation in your attic to increase the R value.
  • Install a soil gas exhaust fan. If you have a musty basement, and/or a basement built with block foundation, a soil gas exhaust fan is an inexpensive alternative to constantly running a dehumidifier. The cost of running a soil gas exhaust fan is about $5 per month, where the cost of running a dehumidifier can be $40-50 per month.
  • Have your home tested for energy efficiency. Rebates could be available through your energy company or cooperative.

Pat Smith is the owner of Eau Claire Insulation & Exteriors, and Brad Steinke is a Building Systems Specialist for Rock and Tait Exteriors LLC, both of whom are members of the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association. Blog articles are often submitted by members of the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association. For more information, please call 715-835-2526 or email info@cvhomebuilders.com.

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