Moisture In Your Home
If your home has air leaks especially if itís through insulation deficiencies than itís a good bet that moisture is finding its way into your home and into the structural envelope where it can cause damage and mold growth. Moisture can find its way into your home in as a direct result of water intrusion or moisture intrusion. When there is water intrusion in the structural envelope you will usually get some telltale signs. You will get water stains on your ceiling and or walls, or direct leaking into the dwelling. Most direct water infiltration can be traced to their source with some detective work. But some may escape your attention entirely until a small problem has become a major expense. Moisture on the other hand can be a different matter.
Moisture intrusion can a little more difficult to spot and the reason are not so straight forward as water intrusion. Moisture in your home usually takes the form of humidity. Humidity is the amount of moisture (water vapor) in the air. Moisture can enter your home by many routes (cooking, showering and bathing, dishwashing, dirt and concrete basements, doing laundry, people, pets and even plants). Moisture intrusion can result in areas of your home that have poor or no insulation, and poor air circulation and ventilation.
Another form of moisture intrusion and the one most difficult to spot is through thermal bridge between the interior and exterior environments. Due to insulation deficiencies in the walls and attic, warm air (interior) will come into contact with cold air (exterior). The moisture in the air will condense unto the surrounding surfaces. The point at which condensation occurs in this situation is called the dew point. The same thing happens on your windows during cold weather or on your glass of ice filled beverage. But unlike your windows dew points can occur under your insulation in your attic and inside your wall. The result, if not discovered, will be possible structural damage resulting in expensive repairs and mold growth (potential health risk).
You can check the moisture levels in your home by purchasing an inexpensive mechanical hydrometer (humidity sensor) from your local hardware store. A hydrometer will help you check difference areas of your home for too little or too much moisture (humidity). Know which will help you determine what action to take to solve the problem (dehumidify or humidify). A humidity level between 40% and 50% is considered a good range. Donít place your hydrometer near a heater, chimney or any other location where it will be affected by direct heat. Leave it for about two hour for accurate results.
Also look at humidifying and dehumidifying systems out there to help you control the humidity levels in your home. You can purchase a stand-alone unit of have an integrated system installed. For a stand-alone unit get one that you can electronically program for moisture level and quite operation. For a whole house system talk to the professionals about what system is right for your home and lifestyle. Check the internet, read articles on the subject and talk to friends and neighbors about the systems they have in their homes. Donít forget to take into account future renovations, structural add-ons and family growth. This will have a profound effect on how effective and efficient the unit will operate in the future.
But how can you protect yourself if you cannot see into your attic or inside your walls, and you want to be sure that you donít have a moisture problem? You can call a certified thermographer perform an infrared thermal diagnostic survey on the ceilings and walls of your home. If deficiencies exist your thermographer can then perform moisture intrusion diagnostics on those areas to help determine if you have moisture related problems in your home.
Donít just get an opinion; get the picture of the condition of your home.