Lately I have been getting lots of calls about moisture issues. Everybody seems to have different issues and they all want to know how to handle them. The funny thing is most of the people are more worried about repairing the damage than actually fixing the problem. Lets face it there are several ways moisture enters your home. Every plumbing fixture is a potential leak. Other potential sources are the roof, condensation, vapor, cooking, breathing, showering, leaks at walls or windows, water heater leaks, and the list goes on and on.
I suggest if you are serious about addressing the moisture in your home, start by hiring an experienced home inspector. They should be able to identify most if not all the areas where problems exist. If the inspector has a thermal imaging (infrared) camera that could be even more beneficial. Thermal imaging (if done properly) can identify insulation issues, moisture and more. I recently inspected a home with 3 leaking windows and 5 leaks in the attic, however the home owners were not aware of any of the leaks as they had caused only minor damage so far. You may be in a similar situation.
A professional home inspection should identify the issues and give you guidance on how to properly address the issues. (Hint, caulking window and roof leaks is a band-aid, not a repair)
Patch vs. Repair
They are different terms because they mean different things. There are many products on the market that are designed to be a patch, until you can get the item repaired. Understand the difference. If you had a garden hose that had a leak, you might wrap some tape around it until you can get to the store and either buy the parts to repair it or replace it. I don’t think you would consider the hose repaired, since the next time you used the hose the tape would likely fail and you would have another leak. The same philosophy applies to your home.
There are scores of so called roofers out there that will gladly charge you $200 to put a bucket of mucket on your roof and claim to have fixed the leak. Don’t believe them. Most roof repairs will require something more than a little plastic roof cement to repair the roof. You see plastic roof cement is a great product to patch a leak but to repair a leak the damaged materials need to be replaced.
Windows are a frequent area where leaks occur. Make sure the bottom of the window frame drains properly. Maintain the sealant around the window frame. If you have stained window sills or bulging baseboards under a window, you likely have an issues that caulk is not going to repair. You likely have a siding issue or a window flashing leak. These issues will require a qualified contractor to perform repairs.
The water heater is probably the most neglected appliance in your home. Almost all of the new water heaters now require a pan be installed under them, however many people do not install pans. The strange thing is some people wont install a pan even after the unit leaked and caused damage. I suggest you inspect the fittings and valves on the unit and look for leaks and/or corrosion. If there is corrosion present, I suggest contacting a plumber to perform repairs before the situation gets worse.
Understand as long as people are breathing in a home there will be moisture vapor in the home, however steps can be taken to reduce the amount of vapor. Open a window or turn on the exhaust fan when bathing. That is what the fan is there for. Yes it does help remove odor when that certain someone uses the bathroom, but its real purpose is to help control moisture. The same is true when you are cooking. Turn on the exhaust fan. Unfortunately, not all stove fans vent to the exterior. if this is the case in your home try cooking with a lid on the pan for as much as possible, the moisture condenses on the lid and drops back into the pan instead of adding more moisture to your air.
The best way to keep your basement dry is to prevent the water from getting to the outside of it. Gutters, and downspouts that drain at least five feet from the home are recommended. Check the grading around the home and make sure it drains away from the home. Don’t plant items that require a lot of water next to the home. I honestly can not count the number of times I have seen foundation damage caused by watering plants next to the home.
There are many other items I could discuss however I think the best recommendation I can give you is to simply hire a experienced professional home inspector. They can provide you with the information you need to make the corrections on your home.
To find a professional home inspector in your area go to www.ashi.org