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Moisture Removal Products Brattleboro VT

Excessive moisture should be high on every homeowner's list of concerns. The persistent problems caused by moisture are serious, and they are on the rise. They can exist in older houses and newer houses, although a variety of factors can make the situation worse in newer homes in Brattleboro.

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Moisture Problems at Home

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Excessive moisture should be high on every homeowner's list of concerns. The persistent problems caused by moisture are serious, and they are on the rise. They can exist in older houses and newer houses, although a variety of factors can make the situation worse in newer homes.

Moisture problems run the gamut from some condensation on windows and walls to more serious issues such as leaks through roofs and walls, wet basements and standing water in crawlspaces. Oversized cooling equipment that does not remove enough moisture also is a concern. In addition, some moisture problems, like condensation in walls, are out of sight.

These problems may damage your home and also may affect the health and well being of its occupants, particularly children and elderly people. It's no wonder that APA" The Engineered Wood Association, a nonprofit trade organization, calls moisture in the home the silent troublemaker.

Managing the Problem

Moisture problems range from condensation on windows to more serious issues such as leaks in roofs and standing water in rawlspaces.

Photos Courtesy Stacy Cramp

Every year, homeowners spend millions of dollars attempting to fix or prevent moisture-related problems, but too often their efforts don't fix the problems, says Anton TenWolde of the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wis., which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. In some cases, these efforts actually make matters worse.

Even building codes, which provide guidelines for well-built houses, often are ineffective in dealing with the problem. Moisture is one area where current building codes get it wrong, TenWolde says, especially when they apply standards [to such diverse locales as] northern Maine, Minnesota, Florida and Texas.

According to APA, homes are designed and built to control moisture through such design features as overhangs, gutters and flashing. Modern homes, however, often are built with numerous hips, slopes, angles, corners and other features that make them more susceptible to moisture infiltration. In addition, the same airtightness that improves energy efficiency often exacerbates moisture-related problems such as interior condensation.

Awareness is the first step in solving any moisture problem; an adequate management strategy is next. There is wide agreement that successful management of moisture is essential for houses to be durable, safe and energy efficient, says David J. Dacquisto of Newport Partners LLC, which prepared a report on moisture for the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing, a public-private initiative involving the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and a wide range of private organizations.

There is a variety of public and private organizations performing research on moisture, Dacquisto says. One goal is to develop reliable documentation on the nature, frequency, severity and effects of moisture problems in houses. This is important because there is a frustrating lack of data on how common different types of moisture problems in housing are, or how they relate to design and occupant variables, the age of houses and their geographic location, Dacquisto explains. A second goal is to improve scientific understanding of the relationship between moisture in homes and the health of a home's occupants, Dacquisto says.

Guidelines for Moisture Control

While research is being conducted, homeowners can take a number of steps to address moisture-related problems in the home. APA provides the following guidelines, which homeowners can follow to protect their homes from the damage caused by moisture.

Site layout, foundations and

basements Foundations and basements can be major sources of mold growth from moisture. To reduce moisture in foundations and basements, homeowners can:

  • Ensure the house site is positioned to provide drainage away from the structure.

  • Provide proper ventilation of crawlspaces if appropriate for the climate. Codes generally require ventilation or other moisture-control methods.

  • Use a dehumidifier in damp basements. Be sure to drain and clean the dehumidifier frequently, since the drip pan can be a source of mold.

  • Drain downspouts away from the foundation.

  • Exhaust dryer and bathroom vents outside and not to a crawlspace or the basement.

    Controlling moisture in walls Walls are exposed to weather and often are subjected to moisture that intrudes past the cladding and into the wall system. Although moisture during construction eventually dries, the elevated moisture trapped in wall cavities can promote mold growth.

    After construction, walls are prone to leaking around windows, doors and other penetrations. In addition, air leakage into the wall cavity may condense on cooler wall surfaces, trapping moisture in the wall cavity. During the construction phase, homeowners can specify the following steps to reduce moisture in walls:

  • Use wide overhangs to protect windows, doors and other wall penetrations from leaks.

  • Install proper flashing around windows, doors and wall penetrations.

  • Design walls to prevent condensation, with consideration for the local climate.

    Controlling moisture in roofs Roofs are exposed to moisture from leaks and from condensation in the attic. To reduce moisture in the roof system, homeowners can take the following steps:

  • Ventilate roofs or provide other moisture control procedures in accordance with local code requirements.

  • Do not exhaust bathroom and dryer vents into the attic.

  • Flash roof penetrations and roof wall intersections properly to prevent leaks.

    Controlling moisture generated after occupancy Many sources of occupancy moisture can elevate interior humidity and cause mold to grow. This moisture can become a problem if it is allowed to accumulate as a result of improper ventilation or moisture control. Homeowners can follow these tips to minimize moisture buildup that can result in mold growth:

  • Most codes include provisions for ventilation fans in kitchens and bathrooms. Use these fans when generating moisture (see Airing Out the Kitchen on page 14).
  • Install light switches that also activate the room's ventilation fan.

  • Vent the discharge air from clothes dryers to the outside. These vents must be maintained to ensure they are not clogged or torn.

  • Use the home's air-to-air heat exchanger, if available, or consider installing a whole-home dehumidifier onto your home's central air system.

      Moisture is the silent troublemaker in the home. By understanding the problem, you can take the necessary steps to deal with it effectively and minimize its potential to damage your home and affect the health of you and your family.

      Dan McLeister is a freelance writer based in Carol Stream, Ill. He has been writing about home building and construction for 28 years.

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