Moisture Eats Away at a Home
Excess moisture that’s not vented or drained properly away from the walls and foundation of your house will start to creep silently and almost invisibly into the structure — and begin its deadly process of decay. This can lead to serious health and safety problems. What may look like an insignificant amount of dampness is dangerous to ignore. Rot in wood will cause costly damage to window and door frames, floorboards, studs, walls and joists. Moisture damage causes your home’s outer membrane to lose its insulating qualities. It will also drive up your heating and cooling bills. Moisture allows mold to hide in wall boards, floors, carpets or ceilings may be a source of allergic reaction in family members, including pets, and can cause respiratory problems. In addition, mold removal from hidden areas can be costly. Any time you plan to have a remodeling done, take advantage of the opportunity to ask your contractor to do additional minor repairs or maintenance work on venting and preventive caulking. Here are some basic steps you should take to avoid or correct moisture problems. They’ll cut down on your repair costs, extend the life expectancy and improve the value of your home.
Always Vent To The Outside
Two Common Mistakes: Exhaust fans that are vented into the attic rather than to the exterior of the house allow moisture to collect in the insulation and can cause a variety of serious damage problems, including rotting wood studs and ruining drywall and mold growth. Clothes dryers that are not vented outside add enough moisture to the air to warp paneling, crumble textured walls or ceilings provide the perfect environment for mold growth which requires expensive mold remediation and other costly repairs.
Be sure your attic insulation is free of gaps or holes. Cold spots can lead to condensation and heat leaks can cause ice dams. Even small gaps can cause big problems – so have your contractor crawl up there to double-check and, if needed, replace or increase insulation wherever it’s been damaged or is inadequate.
Avoid a Damp Basement
The main key to avoiding a wet basement is often as simple as ensuring there is adequate landscape grading for positive drainage away from the base of the foundation. Check the tightness of foundation windows. Have your contractor re-caulk if you don’t want to do it yourself. Keeping gutters clean and clear of debris. A blocked gutter will force excess water to drain in another area. Dehumidify a seasonally damp basement with a portable dehumidifier.
Check Vapor Barriers
Which side is the ‘right side?’ It’s different from climate to climate. An incorrectly installed vapor barrier – perhaps done by the previous owner – could be causing major moisture damage throughout walls and ceilings of your house without your knowledge. A vapor barrier should be installed on the warm side of the insulation. This means placing the barrier on the inside of insulation in cold climates and on the outside in warm climates. If you live in a climate that is in between, use foil-faced foam board with taped joints on either side. Have your contractor check all vapor barriers and make any recommended corrections. It’s well worth the modest cost to correct now rather than pay the high cost to repair later.
Up On the Roof
Chimney flashing and caulk should be checked when you have the gutters cleaned. And, finally, speaking of chimneys … never store green firewood indoors. Not so much because it may be a home to insects, but because it’s definitely harboring a lot of water, which will add to the load of indoor moisture that your house must find a way to exhale … or absorb.