Water is a home’s worst enemy. Places like Williamstown, Holmdel, and Flemington know that all too well. The foundation the house is built on, up through the roof and everything in between can be destroyed by unwanted moisture getting into the home. Water and moisture don’t just come from leaky windows, foundations, or roofs either! There are pipes running all throughout our homes, connecting all your sinks, toilets, and showers, and all it takes is one small leak, or one faucet left on overnight to do a lot of damage. Poor ventilation can leave you with a relative humidity higher than desired. Combined with the moisture that we generate through our everyday life such as eating, breathing, talking, cooking, and showering, there is a lot of potentials for unhealthy conditions to develop if the right methods of moisture control are not in place.
Excess moisture and water will destroy wood, concrete and anything else it encounters. Mold, mildew and other fungi can begin to live and grow around your family impacting indoor air quality and leading to mild and severe health problems such as watery eyes, runny noses, sneezing, itching, wheezing, difficulty breathing, headaches, fatigue, and even trigger asthma attacks. Once mold is present it can be challenging to eliminate as it can hide in walls, in your air conditioner and other hidden places. Taking the steps to keep unwanted moisture out and eliminating mold when it is present is crucial to maintaining a healthy home.
Throughout our New Jersey Summers, humidity runs rampant and often affects the homes here. However, there are a ton of important factors to consider when setting your home up to successfully prevent moisture from becoming a burden on you and your family. From outside to HVAC to ventilation to everyday behavior, we need to make sure we are taking control of our home’s ability to do its job.
- Use downspouts to direct rainwater away from the house and maintain your gutters.
- Slope dirt away from the house
- Repair any leaking roofs, walls, doors, windows, and pipes
- Don’t let spills or pooled water stand! Clean them up right away.
- Keep clothes and towels dry. Throw away any wet carpeting, insulation, or cardboard. Wipe down bathroom walls with a towel after showering.
- Don’t leave water in drip pans, basements, or air conditioners. If you see water consistently pooling in these locations, contact a professional.
- Make sure your air conditioner is well maintained and properly sized for your home.
- When using your air conditioner, use the auto fan setting.
- Maintain a relative humidity between 40% to 50%. If using a humidifier, rinse it with water EVERY DAY. Every few days, follow the instructions for cleaning it properly. Humidifiers are extremely susceptible to mold growth. (Pro Tip: homes that are air-sealed tightly, ventilated correctly, and have a right-sized cooling unit for optimal performance often no longer need a humidifier, even in winter months.)
- Make sure all air ducts located in unconditioned spaces such as attics, crawl spaces, and garages are properly insulated.
- If you have a crawlspace, make sure there is a proper water vapor barrier in place
- Make sure all full bathrooms have proper ventilation to prevent moisture from lingering after showering.
- Run a fan vented to the outside when cooking. Make sure your dryer vent is running outside as well. For all ventilation, make sure you are utilizing the proper materials.
- Make sure your attic is properly ventilated to prevent excess humidity
- If mold has already developed, it is important to remediate it as soon as possible for the sake of your family’s health. If the affected area is less than 15 square feet, you can clean it yourself with a mixture of chlorine bleach and soap and water. DO NOT use ammonia. For anything greater, it is best to contact a professional
- Even when mold has been treated you need to discover the root cause of the development to prevent it from returning. A Healthy Homes inspection will help to discover these underlying issues.
Keeping your home dry is possibly the most essential thing a homeowner can do. The best way to keep moisture from harming your living space is to prevent issues from developing in the first place. Paying attention to potential problems in your home is key to staying in control of your environment. When you see an already present problem, it is imperative that it is addressed immediately before the problem spreads and becomes more damaging and costly. By being proactive and having a professional assessment to aid you in this endeavor, you save yourself from financial strain, stress, and poor health.
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