Coping with condensation and other home moisture issues

FH158406Coping with condensation and other home moisture issues

Finding the right moisture balance in a home can be challenging. 
Too little moisture and a home can be plagued by static electricity and interior spaces that can feel dry and uncomfortable. But too much moisture in a home may make it susceptible to mold, mildew and insect infestations.
Moisture also can rot wood and cause unsightly stains on walls and ceilings. Maintaining humidity in the optimal indoor range helps to keep the home safe, reduce energy consumption and keep a home’s occupants healthy. Damp conditions can lead to the growth of fungi, viruses and bacteria and may exacerbate people’s asthma and allergies. The ideal relative humidity range of a home should be between 40 to 50, according to heating and cooling experts and the Environmental Prevention Agency. Humidity should be even lower in the winter to prevent condensation on windows and other surfaces. Lower relative humidity also reduces the out-gassing of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Measure humidity with a hygrometer to get an accurate assessment. If the humidity levels fall above or below the desired range, action should be taken. Homeowners dealing with excessive moisture can try these remedies. • Ventilate areas of the home. Ventilation can be the first step to reducing indoor humidity. Target the areas that create the most moisture, such as kitchens and bathrooms. Turn on venting fans to remove moist air from the bathroom during showers and baths. Exhaust hoods can control humidity from cooking in the kitchen. When possible, open windows on dry days to help air out damp spaces. • Rely on fans. Use fans to circulate the air and prevent moist air from pooling in certain locations. Fans also will help increase ventilation. • Keep gutters and downspouts clean. Prevent water from pooling around the foundation of a home and infiltrating the basement or crawlspace. Direct gutter water further away from the house if possible, and keep gutters free of obstructions. • Service HVAC systems regularly. Routine inspections of heating and cooling systems can identify any problems, such as clogged air-conditioning drain lines or faulty operation, that can contribute to moisture problems. • Beef up insulation. Insulate cold water pipes and look into insulated toilet tanks that will help eliminate condensation issues. Sealing out moisture in a basement or crawlspace also can help. Vapor barriers can eliminate a great deal of moisture coming into the home. • Address any plumbing leaks. Make sure you trace possible leaks to their sources and have them repaired. Constantly dripping water can add to humidity levels and create other problems. • Use a dehumidifier. If all other efforts have been tried, a dehumidifier unit can help remove excess moisture from the air. Dehumidifiers are particularly helpful in basements where moisture can collect. Controlling moisture in a home results in a safer and healthier space.y.