Northern Thermal Comfort
715.356.6364
2379 Rux Rd.
Arbor Vitae, WI 54568

Why Moisture Control In Insulation Systems

The importance of maintaining a consistent humidity level has become ever more apparent in recent years. It affects the health and durability of the structure, and it affects the health of the people inside. High household humidity levels can cause problems that range from annoying  to down right dangerous. Problems such as moisture and frost on windows, mold, mildew, unpleasant odors and structural damage,can all be the result of moisture levels being out of control. Low household humidity can create its own problems, such as an increased risk for respiratory infections, and an aggravation of asthma and allergies. A skilled insulator is an important part of preventing or solving moisture problems.

What does this mean to me?

Controlling moisture in the home is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health and your home. Don't leave it to chance! A skilled insulator is vital in preventing or solving problems.

Identifying the Problem / Potential Problem – the Source of the Moisture

Moisture sources can be either external or internal. External sources can be ground water or rain water seeping into the structure through leaks in the roof, leaks in the foundation, or other areas where water can flow into the house. Another external source is humid outside air entering the building. Internal moisture sources are created by just living in the house and cooking, showering, even breathing put moisture into the air. Understanding the sources is the first step in solving the problem.

Sometimes the source of the problem is not readily apparent. This is true in the case of roof leakage due to ice dams. Though the water leaking through the roof is bringing moisture into the house and is creating a problem, it is really a symptom of a bigger issue. You need to back it up to the real source of the problem (the water wouldn't leak if the ice wasn't there. The ice wouldn't be there if the snow on the roof wasn't melting. The snow wouldn't melt if the attic wasn't warm. The attic wouldn't be warm if heat wasn't entering it. So how is heat getting into the attic? That is the source of the problem!). Not identifying the source of a problem usually results in trying to fix the wrong things. The result is that the problem never gets solved, but the homeowners pocket book gets drained.

Solving the Problem / Potential Problem

Once the source for a moisture issue is identified, you can now fix it. If the problem is because of an external source, plug the leak. If the roof needs repair, fix it. If the foundation has a crack, fix it. If there is a drainage issue, fix it too. But what if the source is internal?

The first step is to seal the structure. Make the thermal envelope as air tight as possible. This may seem counter-intuitive. If we have all this moisture building up, why would you want to make the house tighter, holding in more moisture? For a couple of reasons. First, we prevent the moisture from going where we don't want it to go. If air can move inside wall cavities, it can leave the moisture right there, creating a nice growing medium for molds or even start damaging the structure. If air can leak into an attic, it can also leave moisture in the attic. It will also make the attic warmer, perhaps leading to ice damming. The second reason for making the house air tight is that you now can take charge of the situation and actively get the moisture out. For summer moisture control, an air conditioner or a dehumidifier may be  all you need. For winter moisture control, a heat recovering ventilation system or a central exhaust system with adequate make-up may be needed. Active handling of of the situation allows one to bring the humidity to the desired level without paying more for your energy than is necessary.  For more information, see MOISTURE, PSYCHROMETRICS AND RELATIVE HUMIDITY - Their Effect on Structure and Air Quality.

Are you building a new house? Are you experiencing problems on your existing home? Give us a call, or have your builder give us a call. Put our skill and experience to work for you.