Managing Moisture in Your Home
Managing moisture in and around your home is one of the most important things you can do to ensure its longevity, make it comfortable to live in, and prevent damage to its contents.
The National Association of Home Builders' MyHome Press has published a handbook for home owners, "Home Maintenance Made Easy," and the excerpt below contains helpful advice on how to control your home's moisture.
High Performance Home Benefits
New high performance homes incorporate the latest building science principles to control temperature and humidity, maintain indoor air quality and increase energy efficiency. Although your home may not include all of the latest air-sealing, ventilation, and moisture-management technology, you will be more comfortable in your home and it will last longer it you do everything possible to manage moisture. This includes replacing filters, controlling humidity, and-when outside air is cool and dry-allowing fresh air into your home.
Keeping indoor humidity in the recommended range of 30%-60%, as well as introducing fresh air into the home, can improve indoor environmental quality. When relative humidity is too low, your eyes and skin get dry, asthma and allergies flare up, and wood furniture and floors shrink and crack. Excess humidity can breed mold, pests, and rot. Too-humid air is more likely to cause heatstroke, heat exhaustion, headaches, and dehydration.
Your kitchen, bathrooms and laundry room-all areas that generate excessive moisture-may have exhaust fans. Use these fans to eliminate excess moisture and odors. Clean them at least every 5 years for those that don't need lubrication, and every year for those that do. Check for dust and lint buildup around the dampers, blades, and intake grill.
As with all other parts of your house, basement walls are not waterproof, and a perfectly dry basement may have wet walls during the summer because of condensation that forms when warm moist air hits a cold surface.
Before making expensive structural repairs to correct wet wall conditions, thoroughly check your drainage system. Repairing or adjusting downspouts or gutters will help to carry surface water away from foundation walls. Ideally, the downspout will end 6'-10' from the house.
If the ground outside your basement slopes toward the wall, pack and bank up soil so water will drain away. Avoid playing shrubbery within 3' of the foundation. Never water your plants towards the foundation.
Even in climate-controlled homes, mildew (another name for mold) can appear in areas of high humidity, such as bathrooms and laundry rooms. You can take positive steps to reduce or eliminate mold growth by lowering humidity.
Vent clothes dryers to the outdoors. Ventilate rooms, particularly kitchens and bathrooms, by opening the windows, using exhaust fans, or running the air conditioner or a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture in the air.
Promptly clean up spills, condensation, and other sources of moisture. Thoroughly dry any wet surfaces or material. Do not let piles of wet towels or clothing stand in the home.
Regular vacuuming and cleaning will also help reduce spore levels. If you notice mold or mildew developing, depending on the surface, you can scrub the affected area with a commercial mixture of trisodium phosphate or a commercial cleaner like Jomax and bleach.