Moisture Sources

Source Uncertain

Mold, Mildew, & Musty Odors: Indoor Sources
(Part 2 of 2)

Typical causes
– Wet Materials
– Plumbing Leaks
– Drainage Through Foundation Walls
– Missing or Incorrectly Installed Flashing
– Construction Defects
– Ineffective Ventilation
– Under-Used Heating & Cooling Systems
– Non-Existent or Unsuitable Vapor Barriers/Retarders

Musty odors typically result from materials deteriorating by water or moisture vapor supporting mold growth.  Water leaks are typically due to plumbing, drainage through the foundation walls, missing or incorrectly installed flashing, and anything sloping anywhere toward or into the building. Read More…

Kickout Flashing

(C) Carson-Dunlap, Illustrated Home

Mold, Mildew, & Musty Odors: Outdoor Sources
(Part 1 of 2)

Typical causes
– Wet Materials
– Drainage Through Foundation Walls
– Missing or Incorrectly Installed Flashing
– Construction Defects
– Plumbing Leaks
– Ineffective Ventilation
– Under-Used Heating & Cooling Systems
– Non-Existent or Unsuitable Vapor Barriers/Retarders

Musty odors typically result from materials deteriorating by water or moisture vapor supporting mold growth.  Water leaks are typically due to plumbing, drainage through the foundation walls, missing or incorrectly installed flashing, and anything sloping anywhere toward or into the building.

Water vapor problems result from high humidity originating indoors or out.  Another culprit is missing, unused, or under-utilized ventilation or heating & cooling systems.  Missing or improperly installed vapor barriers or retarders are also a major factor.

This common complaint discussion is in two parts.  This blog post focuses on outdoor moisture sources.  The next one considers indoor sources.

Wet Materials. Mold grows in the presence of moisture and food—and we make it easier for it as time goes by.  It really likes engineered building materials, like drywall and oriented strand board (OSB).  To mold, refined wood products are easier to eat.  The more we break wood down, the easier it falls apart in the presence of water and moisture vapor.  When organic materials get wet, within 24-72 hours, mold will be present.  Remember dust is organic too, so anything it rests on will support mold growth!

Drainage Through Foundation Walls. This is typically the source of moisture in the basement or crawlspace.  Rain water or groundwater weeps or flows through the foundation wall.  Then it evaporates, causing high humidity.  Some of it condenses.  Either way, mold growth is supported.  Step one is to move rain water away from the house, such as with gutters, drains, or swales.  Controlling groundwater is usually best solved with a good drainage system around the house.

Missing or Incorrectly Installed Flashing. Roof runoff into a wall where roof meets a wall is the most common flashing problem.  Why? No one wants to see the tiny piece of metal or plastic turned out at the bottom of the roof.  Eight percent of the damage and 50% of the repair cost for fixing stucco homes is the result of this missing kickout flashing.

Don’t kid yourself; it happens on all types of house exteriors.  The difference? This problem hasn’t been studied for anything but stucco-clad homes.  By the time most people recognize this is as a problem, the windows, walls, and floors have rotted below it.  By then a mold remediation and a remodeling company needs to get involved.  It’s so easy to see it’s missing!  Anyone can do it.  Water flowing along a wall needs to drain away from it at the bottom of the roof.

Similar things happen wherever flashing is missing or incorrectly installed.  A roofer or stucco remediator can solve flashing problems.

Construction Defects. Think like a raindrop for this one.  Water needs to flow down without draining toward or into the house.  Flat roofs should slope away from the wall.  Shingles must lap over the shingles below.  Valleys made by a roof and wall ought to be sloped to drain.  Crickets are needed above chimneys too.  When water ponds for any reason, there could be trouble.  Ponding water drains through cracks—into and down the wall.  You’ll probably smell the problem, see water stains, or start to cave through the floor before you know it’s been there a very long time.

Resources

Moisture out of control is a home performance problem leading to mold and musty odors.  Mildew is just 1 of 300K different molds.

The whole subject of mold inspecting, mold testing, and mold remediation is found on our mold website.

In Conclusion

Remember, this the first of two blog posts concerning the common complaint about mold, mildew, or musty odors.  This once was focused on outdoor sources. Next time, Part 2 of 2, the indoor sources.

Posted by: SherlockHomesSY | 30 Nov 2010

Common Complaints: Wasted Hot Water

HOT WATER WASTE

Energy in hot water systems is lost by . . .
– Waiting for hot water
– Heat going down the drain
– Water cooling in water pipes
– By heating it
– Overheating
– Recirculation

After heating and cooling, water heating is the second largest source of energy use in our houses.

There are two sources of waste of hot water: behavior and hot water system design.  One we each control.  The other we may be able better control without replumbing the entire house.

Waiting for Hot Water. We’re willing to wait 3-5 seconds for hot water, and occasionally 10 seconds, but not several minutes.  However, we live with what we’ve got.  My “favorite” reaction is turning on the hot water and going away to do something else while waiting.  Even if the fixture doesn’t overflow, the water’s been hot a long time before you came back.  This is behavioral waste. Read More…

Posted by: SherlockHomesSY | 26 Nov 2010

Common Complaints: Window Condensation

Window CondensationMOISTURE ON WINDOWS

Window Condensation occurs when the indoor temperature at the window drops below the dew point, caused by . . .

– High Interior Moisture Vapor
– Single-Pane Windows
– Low Exterior Wall Insulation
– Low Indoor Temperature

Window condensation occurs when the temperature of the window frame or pane is less than the dew point of the indoor moisture vapor.  It can be caused by single-pane windows, little or no exterior wall insulation, low indoor temperatures, or high interior moisture.  It’s usually a combination of these things. Read More…

Posted by: SherlockHomesSY | 23 Nov 2010

Common Complaints: Drafty Rooms

Radiant Heat and Drafts

(C) Carson Dunlap, "The Illustrated Home"

DRAFTY ROOMS

Typical Causes
– Shell and Ductwork Air Leaks
– Uninsulated or Under-insulated Exterior Walls
– Body Radiation

Air leakage is the most common cause for drafty rooms.  However, uninsulated exterior walls will do it by convection.  Sometimes a room may feel drafty by being close to a big window on a cold, dark night.  Our bodies easily radiate heat to the outdoors, making us feel cold on the side of us facing the window.

Shell Air Leaks

Read More…

Posted by: SherlockHomesSY | 22 Nov 2010

RSS Feed Issue: Update 1

A number of readers have been complaining about the RSS feed.  With so many, the problem is probably with WordPress or some software switch I’m supposed to toggle.

I don’t know how to fix it.

If any of you can email some example output and what you did to get it, I will attempt to go to WordPress Technical Support to get it resolved.

Thanks for letting me know!

————————————————————————————–

I contacted Word Press support to solve this issue.

I changed the title from Email Subscription to RSS Blog Subscription.  There are several ways to subscribe.  There are 4 given choices and 1 to choose your own application.  The ones provided include Outlook, Bloglines, Google, and My Yahoo.

I think part of the confusion were a two unused widgets that looked like the RSS feed way to subscribe.  These have been removed.

I hope this helps! Let me know how it goes.

Posted by: SherlockHomesSY | 19 Nov 2010

Common Complaints: Uncomfortable Rooms

Attic Knewall

Attic Kneewall

HOT OR COLD ROOMS

Typical causes
– Improperly Insulted Walls
– Improperly Insulated Floors
– Too Much Heating & Cooling System Airflow
– Too Little Heating & Cooling System Airflow
– Defective Ductwork
– Reversed Supply & Return Registers

A variety of conditions lead to uncomfortable rooms. Rooms in attics typically have improperly insulated walls and air travels freely right under the subfloor.  Sometimes there’s too much or too little air flow from the heating & cooling system.  It’s not unheard of for there to be broken air ducts, covered registers, or supply air ducts switched with return air ducts.  Much of the time, it’s the result of air leaks or a lack of insulation. Read More…

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