A comfortable living environment and a sound structure rely on perfectly balanced moisture levels in the home. Since much of it is built from wood, some moisture in the home is necessary to prevent structural damage from dry, brittle floors, walls and framing. Too much moisture creates a different set of problems. Dampness causes mould, wood rot, and is an invitation to termite infestation.
Moisture damage can be caused by inadequate ventilation, roof leaks, or ponding water infiltrating the foundation. Condensation in the home can peel paint, compromise structural integrity and create health hazards from mould and fungus spores in living spaces. Improper drainage is another source of excessive moisture. Clogged gutters and downpipes cause ponding water. Sloping grades can draw water back toward the home where it seeps into the foundation. Plumbing leaks and roof leaks can account for even more moisture damage.
To avoid dampness issues and prevent water damage to your home, you need to eliminate the aforementioned causes by taking some preventive measures. Moisture damage isn’t always easy to see, and when it is, it’s often too late to avert expensive repairs. Here are some steps you can take to avoid moisture damage to your home.
- Clean Gutters and Downpipes – Clogged gutters and downpipes prevent water from draining away from the home. Eventually rainwater will overflow the gutters and pond at the base of your home. This can lead to seepage into the foundation. Clean debris and fallen leaves from gutters and flush out the downpipes. Gutter guards that prevent such build-up are a worthwhile investment.
- Check Roof for Loose or Damaged Shingles or Flashing – Common sites for roof leaks are around penetrations through the roof, like chimneys, vent pipes and skylights. It’s well worth employing a professional to inspect for signs of wear or leaks you may not notice.
- Check Property Gradient for Drainage – Make sure the slope of the land the house sits on draws water away from, and not back towards, the house. Some landscaping may be necessary to correct improper drainage of groundwater.
- Repair Plumbing Leaks – Pipes and fixtures are subject to leaks, particularly at joints where seals erode and crack. Replace old seals, use PVC cement to join pipe sections securely. Flush plumbing lines and septic tank.
- Avoid Over-insulating the Home – Your house needs proper ventilation in order to breathe, or else moisture gets trapped inside. The resulting condensation leads to all sorts of problems, from rust to wood rot. It’s easy to overdo it in the name of energy savings. Make sure the eaves of your attic have adequate airflow to avoid these issues.
- Check Windows and Doors for Proper Fit – Settling can set doorways out of square, leading to gaps. Window seals crack and dry out over time, allowing moisture to get in around the frames.
Replace worn or missing weather stripping, caulk gaps where necessary.
- Hire a Professional Building Inspector – You can find a lot of causes of dampness in your home, but there’s no substitute for an expert evaluation. A trained building inspector knows how to identify problem areas that the average homeowner will overlook. What you can’t see, can indeed, hurt you. Getting a ‘pro’ to check out your home can save you some very expensive repairs down the road.
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