Moisture Problems & Excess Water in the Home

Reduce Moisture with Practical Solutions for Water Cleanup

When it comes to identifying the signs and probable causes of moisture and moisture-related indoor air quality problems in your home, there are several practical solutions that any homeowner can take to reduce moisture and make the home less hospitable to mold.  Many household problems can be solved if you adopt strategies to prevent excess moisture in the home, perform maintenance or minor repairs and/or hire a professional restoration company to make repairs.

What most homeowners don’t know is that moisture is continually being released inside your home: 2 to 10 gallons every day. In a heating season lasting 100 days, when your home is typically closed up, 200 to 1,000 gallons of moisture can be trapped. A cord of wood stored in your home, for example, can release more than 71 gallons of moisture.  Excess moisture can result in moisture problems, which can lead to air quality problems and mold.

There are two types of moisture problems—leaks and condensation.  Leaks from roofs and plumbing often cause moisture problems in homes.  As for condensation, when warm, moist air comes into contact with a surface that is too cold, moisture condenses. The water and frost that you see collecting on windows is a visible example.  Condensation may also be collecting in your attic, and inside the exterior walls.  Over time, if the air in your house is too humid, the result may be damage to the house structure, your possessions and possibly our health.  Controlling humidity in your home is the best step to preventing mold problems. 

The air you breathe in your home should be clean (i.e. as free from pollutants as possible).   For your health and comfort, your home should have an exchange of air between the indoors and outdoors.  Without the air exchange, your home can accumulate moisture, mold can become a problem, and you can experience poor air quality.  Mold growing in your home can release mold spores, toxins from mold, and moldy odors.  Harmful chemicals can be released from synthetic fabrics, furnishings, and household products. Additional contributing sources of indoor air pollutants are cigarette smoke, burning candles, or improperly maintained or vented combustion devices, such as gas or propane cooking stoves, furnaces, water heaters, wood stoves and fireplaces.  The exchange of stale air with fresh air reduces potential air quality problems.

Condensation can be caused by several factors including: excessive moisture production, inadequate ventilation with outdoor air and cold surfaces.  Excessive moisture production may come from inappropriate use of humidifiers, evaporation of water and damp basements/crawlspaces.  Water evaporation can come from several sources including: showers, cooking, aquariums, washing machines, dishwashers, drying wet clothes, standing water, plants and breathing from people or pets.  Condensation caused from cold surfaces includes: inadequate heat to certain parts of the home (blocked off rooms etc.), drastic temperature swings, poor air circulation within rooms, low quality windows, blocked heating sources and poor insulation in attics and walls.

When it comes to solving moisture problems, reduction and/or removal of the moisture is the priority.  Where possible, remove sources of moisture.  Do not use humidifiers; instead, use a dehumidifier.  Upgrade your windows to energy efficient windows because they can support a higher level of relative humidity without condensation occurring.  Also, upgrade insulation and provide sufficient heat to all areas of your home (when cold out).  It is also important to check the relative humidity in your home.  In very cold weather, a level of 30 per cent or lower may be needed to prevent window condensation.  Regardless, in the winter heating season, the relative humidity should not exceed 45 per cent.  In addition, it is important to find and repair any leaks before water damage occurs.  Check appliances and plumbing (especially behind appliances or under cupboards) for leaks and repair any leaks immediately.  Other practical solutions to moisture problems include: using a kitchen fan when cooking, using lids when simmering or boiling, keep items a few inches away from walls, open cupboards occasionally to let heat in, cover garbage or compost containers, open drapes/blinds to warm window surfaces, keep humidity low in home, keep all rooms heated in winter, open closet doors to allow for circulation (or install louvered closet doors), leave room doors open, seal cracks and improve your overall insulation.

Removing excess moisture and maintaining a low relative humidity in your home during winter months can go a long way to preventing mold damage to your home.  By following the practical solutions outlined above, homeowners can help keep indoor air quality optimal, decrease the risk of black mold and reduce the need to contact a company for water damage cleanup.