Where Does Moisture Come From?

There are three main sources in your home; the first being air leaks.

Air can leak into the home through walls, roofs, and floors and have damaging effects on a house. Uncontrolled airflow through the envelope of the home not only carries moisture into framing cavities, causing mold and rot, but it can also account for a huge portion of a home’s energy use and can cause indoor air quality problems. In a leaky house, large volumes of air – driven by exhaust fans, stack effect, and the wind – can blow through the floor, walls, and ceiling.

moisture: Cut-away view of a two story house with a basement, using arrows to indicate the flow of air through the structure.

The second source of moisture is diffusion through materials.

This is a process by which vapor spreads or moves through permeable materials caused by a difference in water vapor pressure. An example of this is when the soil becomes saturated and moisture enters the crawl space through the walls by vapor diffusion. Installing a vapor barrier can help reduce the amount of moisture that makes its way into the crawl space and into the rest of the home.


The final source is internally generated moisture.

A family of four produces on average two pints of water an hour, or up to 25 pints of water a day, simply by washing dishes, taking showers, cooking, and breathing.

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Rental Property Checklist

Many cities have friendly neighborhoods with great properties. However, it’s important to know what to look for in a rental listing, so you can make a smart assessment about each rental listing you’re interested in.

Use this rental property viewing checklist to stay organized and prepared when viewing properties.

  1. What is the cost of rent?
    Clarify the asking price to guarantee you don’t overpay. If the landlord states a higher rent price than listed, highlight the inconsistency to be sure you get the lower advertised price.
  2. Is there an application process or screening criteria?
    Ask the landlord to explain their application and screening processes, and ask about application fees. A thorough screening process shows the landlord is careful about finding good renters.
  3. What payment methods are accepted for rent?
    Landlords can choose which forms of payment they will accept. However, some landlords make it easy for tenants and allow tenants to pay rent online . The option of online payment allows for automation, security, and convenience for both tenant and landlord.
  4. What is the procedure for submitting a maintenance request? Who makes the repairs?
    You want to be sure the landlord appropriately manages the property and responds quickly to repair requests. Clarify the maintenance procedure and confirm there is a plan in place for repairs. When viewing a property, inspect the current condition because it will offer clues to the upkeep routines of the landlord.
  5. Are furnishings and appliances included?
    It is common for renters to provide their own appliances and furnishings. However, this is not always the case. If the unit is furnished, be sure to ask exactly what is included in the contract so there are no surprises when you move in.
  6. Is there any water damage or mold related issues to disclose?
    Asking this question and having proper documentation of the answer can save you down the line if problems should occur.  Landlords are bound by law to provide a home with a healthy environment for their tenants.  No home should have ongoing water damage issues and/or mold growth at any time during your lease.
  7. Does it fit the budget?
    Be realistic about expenses. Confirm the property fits your budget so you are able to pay bills on time, build savings and still have money for entertainment and travel.

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How a Hygrometer Works

Does your home often feel dry? Or too muggy? If you are experiencing chapped/dry skin, or difficulty breathing while in your home, you may need to get your humidity level checked out. Humidity levels that are not between the averages of 30- 50 percent can be potentially dangerous for your health. You can personally check your humidity level in your home by using a hygrometer.

A hygrometer is an appliance that is designed to calculate the amount of humidity in a room or building. While a hygrometer can’t actually prevent mold from growing, it can warn you to take any steps necessary before the problem occurs. Hygrometers can provide the accurate levels of relative humidity and absolute humidity. Relative humidity is the percentage of humid moisture in the air. Absolute humidity is the actual amount of moisture in the atmosphere.

What Makes a Hygrometer Work?

There are two commonly used types of hygrometers: Mechanical hygrometer and wet and dry bulb psychrometer.

Wet and Dry Bulb Psychrometer

This is the easiest way to measure humidity. This type of hygrometer is equipped with two mercury thermometers, where one has a wet bulb and the other has a dry bulb. Because of the evaporation of water on the wet bulb the temperature will drop and read a lower temperature than what is displayed on the dry bulb. The difference between the two temperature readings equal the amount of relative humidity in the atmosphere.

Mechanical Hygrometer

A mechanical hygrometer requires a little more effort to determining humidity levels in a room.

  • This tool was first created in 1783 by a physicist named Horace Benedict de Saussure.
  • Mechanical hygrometers work by using an organic material, typically a piece of hair where its behaviors can predict the amount of humidity in the air.
  • If you’ve ever noticed how human hair tends to frizz when there is a lot of moisture in the air or it is very hot outside, then it will be easy for you to understand how this tool works.

For example, the piece of hair is attached to a spring and needle instrument that exposes the hair to humidity. Based on the reaction of the hair, the humidity level can be classified. Although a wet and dry bulb is more accurate and easy to understand, a mechanical hygrometer is still as effective.

How to Reset Your Hygrometer

Should you need to ever reset your hygrometer, you can do so by using at-home methods:

  • In a room with normal, consistent temperature, place your hygrometer in a cup or container filled with salt water on a counter space. Leave it to sit for 10-12 hours.
  • After the allotted time, the hygrometer should read a standard relative humidity level of 75 percent.
  • This process should be performed at least once a year to ensure your hygrometer is always providing accurate results.

What makes it effective?

Hygrometers are the go-to source for measuring humidity. This tool can be used in laboratories, manufacturing sites and storage vicinities. Even meteorologists use hygrometers to report the most accurate amount of relative humidity in the community. Hygrometers are widely used because they come with hard-to-beat features. Many hygrometers are built with alarms that will alert you when the humidity level in your home is under that 30 percent or over the 50 percent average humidity level.

Hygrometers can serve as a great way to keep you, your family, home and belongings healthy. They can also come with humidistats, which control the operation of your humidifier or dehumidifier.

8 Ways To Improve Indoor Air

Air pollution isn’t limited to the outdoors. Moisture, odors, gases, dust and a host of other irritants can affect air quality indoors, too. Try these tactics to help freshen your home’s air so you and your family can breathe easy.

  1. Open windows.  Most heating and cooling systems recirculate inside air. When weather permits, give your system a break and let fresh air in. Open windows and place fans strategically to help direct fresh air through.
  2. Use exhaust fans.  Turn on the kitchen fan to vent cooking pollutants, and the bathroom fan to curb mold-promoting wetness and cleaning-product fumes. Leave it running for about 45 minutes.
  3. Do doormats.  They help prevent dirt and other outdoor pollutants from making it inside. Get two natural-fiber mats, one for inside and the other for outside your main entrance. Keep a shoe-free home, too.
  4. Test for mold & radon.  The naturally occurring gas is colorless and odorless. It’s also the second-leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking. DIY test kits, available online and at your local home improvement store, are inexpensive and easy to use. Mold can linger in a home without you even knowing it.  Having your home professionally tested could indicate whether or not you may have a mold problem.
  5. Don’t mask odors.  Scented candles and sprays can irritate lungs, too. Find the source of the smell, get rid of it, then ventilate well until it’s gone.
  6. Use a dehumidifier.  Stay under 50 percent humidity to keep mold growth at bay. Clean your dehumidifier regularly, too, so it doesn’t switch from humidity-reducing friend to mold-harboring foe.
  7. Vacuum regularly.  You’ll reduce the amount dust and other pollutants released when you walk around. Invest in a quality vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, especially good at trapping even tiny bits of dust and dirt.
  8. Take it outside.  Painting, sanding, gluing — anything that generates particles, gases or other pollutants. If outside isn’t an option, open a nearby window and add a fan blowing air out. Clean up after your project quickly and well.

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The Backup Differences

Storm Water Backing Up

In many older houses with basements (mostly pre-1980), there is a perimeter foundation drain outside the exterior wall, at the level of the basement floor, next to the footings at the time the house was built. A pipe was usually installed from the perimeter foundation drain to the street where it was connected to the city storm sewer system.

This can become a problem as the city storm sewer system becomes too small when more development causes more rain runoff. When this happens, the rainwater in the sewer system can get so high that water flows backwards toward the house.

Usually, the installation of an interior perimeter basement drain system connected to a sump pump will take care of the problem. If it doesn’t, the (more expensive) alternative is to dig up and cap the pipe that is running from the house to the street from the perimeter foundation drain. However, this is not always possible; many times, this pipe is also draining sanitary waste from toilets and sinks in the house.

Sewer Water Back Up

If the water is coming up through floor drains or sink drains in the basement, then the problem is often water backing up from the municipal sanitary sewer system. During heavy rains, combined sewer systems can become overwhelmed with water. This can cause sewer water to back up in the system and sometimes into homes.

There are other possible explanations, too. Sewer backups can be caused by individual service lines being plugged by grease, waste, tree roots, breaks in pipes or saturated ground. Sewer mains can also be plugged by vandalism or large items dropped down manholes. This kind of flooding is an enormous problem for homeowners, as it’s largely out of your control and probably means fecal waste backing up into basements. Not only is it disgusting, but it can also be a serious health hazard.

In order to keep your individual lines clear, you can install backflow preventers that help stop sewer water from flowing backward into the house. Proper maintenance of your individual lines – for example, pouring tree root killer down your toilets once a year – can also go a long way in preventing sewage backups. Still, the problem is often out of your control. Sewage in your basement means a major cleanup and a lot of uncertainty about future problems. If it’s something you’ve seen in your home, you’ll have to get your city government involved. At the very least, be aware of the problem and don’t leave anything valuable near your downstairs drains.

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