Tackle your home's trapped moisture
Trapped moisture is one of your home’s scariest enemies. We talked about it in our column last week, concentrating on what to do from the ground up.
Today we will lift our sights to take you beyond the foundation to explain more ways to identify and attack this wet, silent enemy.
Your home's siding protects it from nature's fury, just as your clothes protect you. When properly installed and maintained, the siding materials used on your home are generally durable and long lasting.
However, bad paint, sunlight, damaged siding, poor caulking and rusted flashing, in addition to moisture build-up can damage your house!
Do not fear: good ventilation and timely maintenance are our best offensive weapons.
Signs of a healthy home
Here's what you want to see as indicators that your home is well protected:
A great paint job
Good doors, windows and trim
Good gutters and downspouts with splash blocks, to convey the water away from the foundation
Black plastic ground cloth in the foundation
A good working flapper vent for the dryer
Kitchen and bathroom fans vented outside through flap vents
High and low attic venting
Lots of foundation vents in pre-treated skirting
Happy neighbors admiring your well kept home
So, what should you do if you see something that is not on the desired list?
For starters, if you see peeling paint, as we said, it’s most likely a moisture-control problem. It may mean that it is time to install plastic under your house, add vents or add vented fans in bathrooms and kitchen.
If you already have fans, make sure they are vented outside and that – frankly – you are using them.
You may also need additional attic vents. Use our rule of thumb, one square foot of ventilation for every 150 square foot of attic floor. (In addition to the number needed in the foundation.)
You should also inspect your siding, windows, roof and gutters for signs of leaks.
Once you have found – and corrected – the sources of moisture, it’s time to scrape, prime and paint. (While this may not be the time of year to do so, at least put it on your to do list for the first nice days of spring.)
What if you see rusty siding nails or bleed marks? It means someone used the wrong siding nails. You need to re-nail with galvanized nails, countersink the old nails and fill the holes. Use a stain blocker over the rusty marks before painting.
Avoid woodpiles near house
Many of us have a nicely stacked woodpile, ready for those toasty winter fires. However, is this stacked wood too close to your house?
Woodpiles or lumber stacked near the house can create problems, including extra moisture and bugs for sure. (Not to mention creating a cozy place for critters to make nests.) However, it’s an easy – albeit time consuming – fix. You will need to move the piles as far from the house as you can, 25 feet if possible.
Be on the lookout for bugs or bug holes of any kind in your house. They indicate a consistent source of moisture. Find and stop the source then repair any bug damage.
Remember, the damage may be hidden in a wall or in the floor. So you will need to follow the signs of moisture-related damage—staining, peeling paint, rusty nails, dampness, dry rot and bugs—until you get to the root of the problem.
Other common maintenance problems to look for include missing or damaged siding or trim. It’s important to repair and replace these materials to avoid moisture problems and further damage.
Also, pay close attention to broken or missing window parts. The sash surrounds the glass panes and must be kept well glazed and painted.
The stool sill sheds the rain away from the siding and must be smooth, rot-free and well painted. The trim boards around each window make a weatherproof transition from siding to glass. They, too, must be tightly caulked and painted. When these parts fail, it can result in leaks, then wall and floor damage.
When you observe, repair or replace window parts, make sure to stab test the wall sheathing just under the windowsill.
Moisture in bath, laundry
Other ways to control the moisture in your home include leaving the bathroom fans on for a half hour after you are done with your shower or bath.
Make a habit of opening your windows and airing out your home—especially after you have been doing laundry, cooking or washing your floors. It will make a difference in protecting your home.