Excessive moisture can threaten your family’s health and the structural integrity of your home. Moisture infiltration is a common condition that can cost homeowners thousands of dollars in repairs.
Dampness and Home Damage
Condensation, roof or basement leaks, plumbing leaks, defective window sealing, exterior landscaping, crawlspaces and even everyday household activities can be sources of dampness. Ongoing moisture exposure eventually leads to rotted wood structures, deteriorated drywall, peeling wallpaper, sagging ceilings and dangerous mold growth. It may also encourage termite infestations and produce persistent odors.
Moisture and Health Problems
High relative humidity in the home increases the dust mite population. For allergy and asthma sufferers, this can mean a dramatic increase in symptoms. Learn more about the impact of dampness on Asthma here, and here. Bacteria and viruses are also more prevalent in damp atmospheres. Another serious threat is presented by mold growth. Mold thrives in moist environments and may remain undetected when present in basements, vent systems or closets. Many common molds cause allergic reactions and respiratory symptoms. Some molds are toxic and exposure can lead to serious illness or even death, especially for the young, elderly, or those with weak immune systems. Symptoms of toxic mold exposure include headaches, skin rashes, vomiting, joint pain, neurological deficits, hair loss and dizziness.
Signs of Excess Moisture in Your Home
- Stains on walls or ceilings
- Visible condensation on pipes or windows
- Peeling, blistering paint
- Musty or rotten odors
- Wet insulation or wood
- Visible mold, black spots
- Damp basement walls or floors
- Wet or rotted carpeting
- Warped drywall or sagging ceilings
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Keeping Your Home Dry
There are various ways to decrease the overall humidity level in your home. These practical tips can help improve air quality and prevent mold, rot and other moisture-related problems.
- Always use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens.
- Be sure that walls and floors are properly insulated.
- Use a commercial dehumidifier in damp areas.
- Space furniture well to increase air circulation.
- Wash and dry laundry with windows open.
- Never block wall or floor vents.
- Be sure your foundation has adequate drainage.
- Check pipes regularly and repair plumbing leaks promptly.
- Keep gutters and downspouts clear.
- Wipe away condensation on interior windows and sills daily.
- If you have occasional dry air problems, install a humidistat to monitor humidity accurately.
- More tips for drying out your home.
Check for Moisture Before Buying
Before purchasing a new home, check for signs of moisture damage carefully. Some sellers try to hide existing problems, so be suspicious of any recently painted or repaired areas. Check all ceilings and walls for water stains and visible mold. Note any musty odors. Look for rot or peeling paint under sinks and in basements. Check corners for carpet damage or stains.
When in Doubt, Consult an Expert
If you suspect a dampness problem in your home or one that you want to purchase, consult a professional home inspector to conduct an assessment and provide a moisture report. A qualified inspector has moisture detection equipment that can reveal hidden problems. The earlier you address a moisture problem, the less damage it can do to your health and your house.