Top 10 Things to Know About Moisture Control
Not controlling the moisture levels in your home can contribute to a host of problems. When home humidity levels are too high it accelerates mold and mildew growth, reduces heating and cooling efficiency and creates an appealing environment for unwanted pests. It is imperative that all homeowners develop a moisture control strategy to prevent these issues.
Your home’s humidity level has a direct impact on your family’s comfort. When the air in your home is dry, you are more likely to catch a cold and suffer from issues like dry, itchy skin. Structural problems can occur in a home with low humidity too—including wood rot and damage to siding.
High humidity in a home is also a potential issue. In the South, the weather can bring wet, stormy days. But weather conditions are not the only cause of high humidity; day-to-day activities could impact a home’s humidity level too. For instance, boiling water on the stove and taking long, hot showers can increase indoor humidity levels even in a well-ventilated home. Too much humidity in a home promotes mold growth, attracts insects, and makes the house feel stuffy.
1. Don’t Just Guess at Humidity Levels – Signs of High and Low Home Humidity Levels
To properly control moisture in the home, you need to closely monitor the humidity levels in the air. According to ENERGY STAR, the energy efficiency program run by the U.S. Department of Energy, humidity levels inside a house should fall within the range of 30 to 50 percent. A hygrometer is an inexpensive tool that can be purchased to check the humidity level in each room. Also, thermometers are available that display both temperature and humidity levels.
Heating your home during freezing temperatures will be the number one culprit for causing low relative humidity levels. Cold air doesn’t hold as much moisture as warm air and once a heater turns on in a home, it doesn’t replace the missing moisture. These are the top signs of low humidity in a home:
- Skin changes: Dry, itchy skin is a common sign of a home having low humidity. Your nose may also feel dry or stuffed up.
- Static: Electrostatic discharge or “shock” is more common in places with dry air. Feeling a shock when you touch a metallic object could be a sign of low humidity. Electrostatic discharge is problematic for home electronics since a television or computer could be damaged through exposure to an electrical charge.
- Increased thirst: When the humidity is low in the home, the air will deplete moisture from your body to replace it. You are likely to feel dehydrated when spending prolonged periods in dry air.
- Wood damage: Wood furniture expands when exposed to excess moisture and constricts in low humidity environments. Cracking and warping can occur due to prolonged expanding and shrinking.
Relative humidity levels over 50 percent are also problematic. Despite colder temperatures, too much snow or rain, overuse of a humidifier and cooking/bathing habits could make the humidity too high. Common signs of a home with high humidity include:
- Allergy symptoms: Too much humidity is harsh on allergy sufferers as symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose and itchy, watery eyes become more widespread.
- Condensation: Humidity in the home is potentially too high if you notice condensation forming on windows.
- Mold growth: If you see signs of moisture or mold on the walls and ceilings of your home, the relative humidity is too high. Water stains may also be visible on the walls and ceilings. There may also be a musty smell prevalent in the home.
- Structural damage: High humidity causes paint to bubble. Any type of wood in the home could also show signs of rot.
- Bug infestations: Many insects thrive in moist conditions. If you notice an increase of pests in the home, this could be an indication that you need to lower the relative humidity in the house.
If you are unsure of the current relative humidity level in the home, there are tools available for purchase. A hygrometer will measure the humidity in the home. Several indoor thermometers also include a gauge for humidity.
2. Moisture Control Is a Must for Family Health
High moisture climates provide prime breeding ground for mold and bacteria, and many fungi grow well in Carolina temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees. In addition to facing unpleasant smells and visual damage in your home, mold and bacteria can cause structural damage, attract pests and affect your personal health.
Have you ever been sick with a mold-related illness? If so, you may be familiar with the coughing, sneezing and overall discomfort that is caused by bacteria and microorganisms entering your body and irritating your eyes, nose and lungs. A type of mold that is common in North and South Carolina is called Stachybotrys Chartarum. This mold is linked to illnesses that cause flu-like symptoms.
In addition, mold can cause flare-ups for people suffering from asthma or allergies. The microorganisms that breed in moist areas can trigger allergy or asthmatic symptoms by introducing foreign bacteria to their immune system. If you have asthma or a mold allergy, make sure to frequently check your home for the invasive fungi and use moisture control services such as an automatic temp vent to keep mold out.
Mold can grow anywhere in your house with excessive moisture, such as on your walls, ceiling, carpet or furniture. Some common places to look for mold include the bathroom, basement, crawlspace and areas with a furnace or heater.
Not controlling the moisture levels in your home poses a significant health risk to your family members and pets. Microorganisms thrive in humid conditions and can contaminate your home’s air quality. Getting rid of moisture reduces the number of allergens found in the house including mold and dust mites.
Controlling home moisture levels is a must for allergy and asthma sufferers. Since too much moisture attracts pests as well, you or family members could suffer health issues due to contaminants spread into the household by unwanted bugs and rodents.
3. Moisture Control Problems Can Lead to Pest Infestations
While most people think of humidity as the main cause of excessive moisture, standing water, which is a consequence of poor drainage in and around the house, can also determine your need for moisture control. Both standing water and humidity can attract unwanted pests to your home, and if left untreated, it can build up a hefty bill in repairs and pest removal services.
There are different pests in the North and South Carolina region that can damage your home and affect the people living inside of it. Certain pests such as carpenter bees, cockroaches and ants love moist wood, and other insects such as mosquitoes are attracted to the standing water inside and outside your home. If you have standing water in your basement or around the house, consider adding a French drain or sump pump to move the water away from your property.
Bugs, Insects, and Mold Thrive in a Humid Carolina Home
Moist wood, damp home insulation and humid conditions make perfect living quarters for bugs, insects and mold. Warm temperatures touching on 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit combined with 70-80% internal humidity levels promote an increase in dust mites, bugs, insects and other pests. Likewise, when the relative humidity climbs above 80% you can expect mold to thrive.
Health risks associated with cockroaches, dust mites, flies and insects include:
- Increased risk of asthmatic reaction
- Spread of food borne pathogens
- Damage to home structural integrity
- Danger of bites and stings
Rodents are another example of a pest that can infiltrate your home through holes created by wood rot, and they bring diseases with them. The good news is you can keep your family and pets safe from outside dangers by putting a moisture or pest control plan into place today.
Rats and Mice as a Consequence of Carolina Home Moisture Problems
Accumulated internal moisture increases the risk of home invasion by rats and mice. According to a recent AHS report on occupied manufacturing housing, better than 10 percent of homes reviewed over a three-month period showed signs of mice. For site-built homes, the rate of infestation dropped to just over 5 percent. This simply shows that in any given three-month period, millions of US homes will experience some measure of mouse problems.
The associated dangers include:
- Damage to electrical wiring
- Increased risk of fire hazard
- Structural damage
- Aggravated allergies
- Increased spread of disease
- Transport of fleas, lice, mites and ticks
- And a risk of bites.
4. Moisture Can Cause Structural Damage to Your Home
Mold, a type of fungus that grows on moist organic matter like wood, can weaken the structural foundation of your home. In North and South Carolina, you may notice wood rot occurring as a result of mold, since mold increases wood’s absorption ability and therefore makes it prone to additional fungal growth.
This deteriorating wood can eventually develop holes leading into your home – a.k.a. an entrance for pests including carpenter bees, insects and rodents. Carpenter bees, for example, build nests in soft wood, then tunnel through the structure creating irreversible damage.
If your Carolina home has structural damage, it can result in costly repairs. However, you can prevent this type of fungal growth and pest infestation by using crawlspace care installation, power vents or one of our other moisture control services.
5. Costly Home Repairs and Health Issues Due to Moisture Problems
If you’ve noticed excess moisture in your home, whether your furniture feels damp to the touch or you find standing water in your basement, it’s important to fix the issue or understand potential consequences if the issue is not resolved.
If any room in your home, including your basement, attic or crawlspace, experiences humidity exceeding 80 percent for an extended period of time, you may want to re-consider storing electronics in the area. This type of moisture is harmful for you and your devices, and one should consult with a moisture control professional.
Like excess humidity, standing water and condensation are two factors that can lead to electronics damage. Frequent condensation can cause corrosion, and when mixed with dust the condensation can clog vents and make it difficult for a device to maintain a normal temperature. Make sure your electronic devices and electrical boxes are protected from water damage by investing in moisture control solutions or keeping them in dry, cool areas in your home.
Contrary to popular belief, moisture issues are not completely resolved by increasing your A/C or using toxic cleaning products. There is no way to fully remove mold and excess moisture from your home without a moisture control solution in place to ensure proper ventilation. With increased cooling efforts and home product purchases comes expensive monthly bills. To avoid spending unnecessary money in electricity and supplies – contact one of our moisture control specialists for a free consultation.
While mild humidity can be the cause of discomfort, severe humidity can lead to overheating. For this type of reaction, you must experience levels of high humidity for a prolonged period of time. Overheating is caused when dense humidity restricts your body’s ability to evaporate sweat. A person may overheat while exercising or doing work around the house.
Some symptoms of overheating include:
- Heat exhaustion
- Heat rash
People with poor physical fitness, lack of sleep or obesity are more likely to experience overheating. A common cause of overheating is dehydration, so make sure that you drink plenty of water. If this type of heat has infiltrated your home, contact moisture control specialists immediately to help install proper ventilation and keep you safe.
6. Finding the Cause of Too Much Humidity Can Be Challenging
Controlling humidity levels in a home starts as early as the design and building phases of a new construction project. When a home has ventilation issues, or the building materials used in construction encourage moisture buildup, high humidity problems are more likely to develop. Home repairs not addressed immediately can also contribute to moisture issues. For instance, plumbing leaks can cause moisture levels to surge.
Any type of sub-floor areas such as basements and crawlspaces are prone to high moisture levels. Ground water could easily seep in through any cracks or holes in the basement walls. Certain materials used in basements like concrete blocks are also very porous and will absorb water when exposed. In a crawlspace, a vapor barrier can be laid down to stop ground moisture from seeping into the space. To prevent water in the basement, one method used is to slope the ground away from the home’s foundation. Downspouts can also be extended away from the house to protect the foundation.
If you are unable to pinpoint the cause of too much moisture on your own, contact a professional for assistance.
7. Too Much Moisture Is a Year-Round Issue
When most of us think of high humidity, we tend to think of it as a summer issue and not a winter problem. In fact, winter weather can also prove problematic when you’re attempting to control a home’s moisture level. During the colder months, homes are less ventilated due to closed windows and doors.
Home drainage systems should also be evaluated. If downspouts and gutters are blocked, that could contribute to excess home moisture. When it rains or snows, there will be a rise in interior moisture levels due to humidity trapped inside. Moisture also becomes an issue due to condensation buildup on windows due to the temperature difference between the air inside and the air outside
8. Home Improvements for Moisture Control
There are several steps you can take yourself, or work with a moisture control professional, to improve your home.
If high moisture areas of your home aren’t getting proper ventilation, you are going to run into problems. Areas that should have ventilation fans include the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room, attic and basement.
Remember to turn on vent fans, including power vents, regularly and leave them running for longer periods of time if the humidity in the room is high. In the case that ventilation fans aren’t installed, open windows to dry the area out as needed. Exhaust fans typically require professional installation and should be vented to the outdoors. Attic fans can also be useful for controlling moisture levels throughout the home.
Since vents are the best and most convenient option for most homeowners, there is one vent you can purchase to help with the issue of seasonal humidity. The automatic temp vent can protect your home and crawlspace from moisture damage during hot and humid summer months. This option is appealing to most as the vents open and close depending on the temperature, taking most maintenance and human error (i.e. forgetting to adjust the vent based on the weather) out of the equation.
Improved ventilation is a simple fix when your home is too humid A central air conditioning system can also be utilized to reduce moisture levels year-round. Set the system’s fan to “auto” instead of using the “on” position. Cooking with pans covered and bathing with cooler water could also be useful. Dryers should vent to the outdoors—especially if they are in basements.
Choose the right dehumidifier
If your home is too humid, you may need to use a dehumidifier to lower moisture levels. A dehumidifier will remove excess moisture from the air by speeding up the evaporation process. Like humidifiers, there are different size dehumidifiers available and can also be installed as part of a whole house HVAC system. With a built-in humidistat, dehumidifiers turn on and off to maintain ideal relative humidity.
There are two main deciding factors when choosing a dehumidifier: the size of the room requiring the dehumidifier and how you want the water removed from the air. For instance, you wouldn’t choose a portable 10-pint dehumidifier to handle an entire basement. For moisture problems throughout a home, a dehumidifier can be installed as part of an HVAC system. This type of whole-house dehumidifier would include a drainpipe that empties into a sump pump or funneled to the outside.
Sealing and Caulking
Caulking around windows and doorways can be done to prevent humid air from coming inside. Ductwork should also be checked to look for any leaks that need to be sealed. Sealing around tubs, showers and sinks could also stop water leaks. During the winter months, storm doors and windows are effective at eliminating moisture caused by condensation.
Fix Household Leaks
Have you ever noticed standing water in your basement or around the house? If you have leaky pipes, then you’re going to have a moisture problem in your home. Check household pipes for rust or leaks and contact professionals for the appropriate repairs. After checking the pipes, look for any leaks that could be occurring around household sinks, showers and bathtubs. Always check the caulking around tubs, toilets and showers to see if these areas need to be re-caulked.
If water is entering your home from the outdoors, you need to find ways to divert the water away from the foundation. Your home’s drainage system should include gutters and downspouts that collect rainwater and transport it away from the home. You may also want to revise your landscaping to create sloping that will move water away from the foundation.
There are a couple of moisture control products and services you can use to mediate this problem. If flooding is a consistent issue in your basement, then a sump pump may be the solution for you. A sump pump collects water in a ditch at the lowest point in your basement and expels the liquid from your home. A French drain, on the other hand, will move water away from the house before it can enter and harm your home’s foundation.
Cut Down Crawl Space and Basement Humidity Levels
The dirt floors within your home’s crawlspace could be leading to significant moisture issues. Putting down a vapor barrier will help address this problem. In the basement, excess humidity can result from leaky concrete walls. To help, cracks should be repaired immediately, and waterproofing products should be considered.
Work on the gutters
Although a lot of focus is put on moisture control in basements, don’t forget to check other areas of the home that could be contributing to the problem. For instance, inspect the roof for any cracks or holes and make the necessary repairs. Install gutters or a French drain and make sure they are kept clean to ensure water is diverted properly.
If your home is carpeted, moisture issues may arise. Carpet fibers can absorb moisture and stimulate mold growth. If possible, decorate your home with smaller area rugs that can be easily removed from the room to be washed and dried on a regular basis. When installing new flooring, install a vapor barrier on the sub-level to reduce moisture levels coming in from exposed dirt. This is especially important when carpeting is being placed over concrete.
Just a few simple changes to your day-to-day habits could have a big effect on the moisture levels within a home. For instance, reducing the temperature of your showers will lessen humidity. Cutting back the time spent in the shower also helps. When cooking, keep pans covered if possible. Run your oven’s exhaust fan when using the stove.
Although you may love having greenery indoors, your houseplants could be contributing to your humidity problems. Houseplants release moisture into the air. Limit the number of plants you have inside or move them safely outdoors if possible. For any plants remaining inside, avoid over-watering them. You may want to focus on some landscaping outside the home, too. Heavy vegetation surrounding the home can trap in moisture. Trim back any trees and bushes that touch or are nearly touching the house.
9. Don’t eliminate humidity altogether
ENERGY STAR recommends a minimum of 30 percent humidity since not enough moisture in the air can cause physical discomfort. Sinus issues can develop, and you may notice your throat feeling scratchy. Your skin can become dry and itchy. Chapped lips are also more likely to occur when the air is too dry. Furthermore, low humidity could damage any type of wood furniture and building materials you have in your home. Shrinkage may take place along with structural warping.
The easiest way to add moisture to the air is with a humidifier. Humidifiers measure the relative humidity in the air and turn on when the level is too low. Single room humidifiers are available, or consumers may purchase whole house humidifiers that work with their HVAC systems. Portable humidifiers are inexpensive and will produce a vapor to be released into the room. Whole-home humidifiers are controlled by a humidistat and work in the same fashion as a furnace.
Home remedies are available for temporary low humidity fixes. Homeowners may boil water, air dry wet laundry in the home and leave the bathroom door open while showering. Houseplants and indoor water fountains are also DIY options to add more moisture back into the air.
10. Solutions to Carolina Home Moisture Problems
Home pest problems never fully vanish. They exist in the billions. Routine pest control is the best method for long-term prevention. Taking control of your home’s relative humidity greatly reduces the possibility for invasion. Here are some of the ways Monroe-based Carolina Pest Management can help you reduce your North Carolina home moisture problems:
Crawl Space Ventilation
Automatic Temp Vents… Crucial to crawl space ventilation, automatic open/shut temperature variance controlled air vents offer inexpensive aid in the management of home moisture control.
Power Vents… Sometimes natural ventilation needs a boost. Installed power vents include an automated fan system, which better regulates the airflow throughout your crawl space.
Installed French Drains
In addition to providing a breeding ground for termites, mosquitoes and other household pests, standing water, whether inside or outside, creates a structural threat to your home. Installed French drains divert standing water away from your foundation, crawl space and basement.
Installed Basement Sump Pumps
In some homes, diversion of accumulated surface water fails to fully remove the accumulation of in-home moisture. When crawl spaces and basements are constructed beneath the natural water table, underground pressure can force water into those spaces. Sump pumps supplement the use of a French Drain solution.
Vapor Barriers and Crawl Space Care
Installed vapor barriers seal your crawl space against rising ground moisture. Along with the reduction of home structural decay, Carolina Pest Management crawl space care helps you control the advance of mold, mildew growth and pest invasions.
Carolina Pest Management Can Help Your Moisture Control
Carolina Pest Management professionals have witnessed countless numbers of pest issues caused by too much moisture in the home. Homes with too much moisture in the air attract unwanted houseguests including bugs and rodents. Our professional and expert team of pest control technicians can help prevent infestations with moisture control services in your Carolina home. Contact us today to learn more.