We all know that excess moisture is bad for the health of your home and you. It leads to the growth of mold which is never a good thing. However, a lot of the time people miss seeing the signs or symptoms of excess moisture in the home until it’s too late and the damage has already been done. A very tiny wet patch on the basement wall can go unnoticed until the mold growth has become very visible. But by then, the entire family may already have been affected by breathing in mold spores which can cause respiratory problems. We’re not even talking about the dust mites, cockroaches, and bacteria that all thrive in moist environments. And then there’s the structural damage that moisture can cause to your home. Wood can rot, paint can chip, etc.
Obviously, the best thing you can do to ensure the safety of your family and your home is to maintain the right amount of indoor moisture and humidity. But before we talk about prevention, let’s take a quick look at moisture and humidity. What a lot of people fail to realize is that plenty of activities inside the home can expose you and your house to moisture.
Cooking, bathing, dishwashing, and using the dryer can increase the level of moisture in the air. Heating appliances, humidifiers, and uninsulated cold-water pipes can also cause moisture to accumulate. Plumbing, roof leaks, damp basements, sewer backups, poorly maintained gutters and drains, and even plants can cause moisture to increase inside the home. Poor ventilation can also cause condensation which promotes the growth of mold. Here’s the scary fact: mold and mildew can grow on a damp surface within a day or two according to FEMA. So, how does one get rid of moisture and make sure it never becomes a problem?
#1: Ventilation is key
Excess moisture can be prevented through ventilation. Install exhaust fans in various locations inside the home. Exhaust fans can remove moisture in the bathroom. Exhaust hoods can remove moisture produced in the kitchen while you cook or use the dishwasher. The same goes for the laundry room. Aside from exhausts, you’ll need a good ventilation system that will cycle the old, stale air inside your home and replace it fresh air that has low humidity. If you live in an old, less-ventilated home, try opening windows and installing ceiling fans.
#2: Keep your downspouts and gutters clean
Water can seep into your home for many reasons, one of which is a runoff. Runoff is when rainwater was not successfully diverted away from your home due to clogged downspouts and gutters. Instead, too much of it seeped into the ground near the base of your home’s foundation. When this happens, hydrostatic pressure forces the water to go through whatever cracks and gaps it finds in the walls and floors of your home. The result? A damp or, worse, a flooded basement.
#3: Keep your carpets clean and dry
You may not know this but carpets retain moisture. And dust mites, which thrive in high humidity environments, love carpets. To keep your carpet dry and dust mite-free, consider using an air mover and dehumidifier each time you clean your carpet. These two tools are typically used in flood restoration projects as well as carpet cleaning because they increase air circulation while lowering the moisture level in the air.
#4: Maintain your home’s humidity level between the 40-60% range
Monitor the air inside your home with a hygrometer to ensure that you maintain the right amount of humidity inside the home. Use a dehumidifier when needed, especially during the summer. Properly installed air conditioning systems also help to lower the humidity level in a home.
#5: Keep your crawlspaces dry
Aside from proper ventilation, placing a heavy duty plastic cover over the dirt in crawl spaces will prevent any moisture in the ground from coming in. Also, place a dehumidifier inside and let it run for several hours to ensure that it is dry.
There are plenty of other ways to prevent moisture from becoming a permanent fixture inside your home. Installing insulation, put a waterproof coating on your walls, weather-stripping and caulking your windows, installing a sump pump, keeping household plants outside the home, etc. Some solutions are more expensive than others. Whatever methods you wish to employ, just make sure that nothing stays damp inside your house. Remember, it only takes 24-78 hours for mold to take hold.