How does moisture get into the house?
Homeowners should have a basic understanding of how moisture may enter a home and where problems are commonly found.
Moisture or water vapor moves into a house in the following ways:
- Air infiltration: Air movement accounts for more than 98% of all water vapor movement through a building’s cavities. Air naturally moves from high-pressure areas to lower ones by the easiest path possible, such as a hole or crack in the building envelope. Moisture transfer by air currents is very fast—in the range of several hundred cubic feet of air per minute. Replacement air will infiltrate through the building envelope unless unintended air paths are carefully and permanently sealed.
- Diffusion through building materials: Most building materials slow moisture diffusion to a large degree, although they never stop it completely.
- Leaks from the roof, such as those caused by aging materials needing repair or replacement, storm damage, or deteriorated or unsealed areas around a chimney, skylight, or other roof penetration
- Plumbing leaks
- Flooding, which can be caused by seepage from runoff or rising groundwater. It may be seasonal or catastrophic; and
household activities, including bathing, cooking, dishwashing, and washing clothes.
- Indoor plants, too, may be a significant source of high levels of indoor humidity.
Excess humidity that isn’t allowed to dissipate through adequate ventilation can build up into condensation, which can lead to moisture problems indoors.
Monitoring indoor humidity, introducing fresh air, providing adequate ventilation, and performing regular, seasonal home maintenance will help homeowners monitor the different areas of the home that may harbor unwanted moisture intrusion and all of the problems it can introduce.
Scott Price, CPI, #1532
Certified Home Inspector
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