Establishing and maintaining moisture levels in your home can seem like a daunting task. It is important to remember that moisture damage caused by improper or inadequate use of your ventilation system, is not covered by the new home warranty. Because of this, it is crucial that homeowners understand what they need to do to maintain moisture levels, especially during those cold, dry winters months where we tend to blast the heat, and those humid summers days where we crank up the AC. With the help of Tarion, we’re tackling some of your most-asked moisture questions.
What Causes Damage?
Moisture damage comes from water that enters the home and remains there, either unnoticed or unattended to. This can be weather related water, water from leaking pipes or fixtures, or humidity in the air. This damage can have serious consequences, potentially developing mold or causing your fixtures to crack, warp, rot or peel. This damage may not always be immediately visible, so proper maintenance is important from the beginning.
What Can I Do?
Always use the ventilation systems in your home to control moisture. Bathroom fans, kitchen range hoods and packaged ventilators such as heat-recovery ventilators are specifically installed in your home to help you control moisture. Your home ventilation system is designed to be used when humidity is high, like when you’re cooking, running a shower or doing laundry, and will blast away excess airborne moisture. This is particularly important during the first winter, as your new home needs to ‘settle’.
Excess humidity inside your home is easy to spot during the winter, as it takes the form of condensation. When condensation on windows and doors occur, increase ventilation in your home by: using your stove and bathroom fan, turning up your ERV, purchasing a dehumidifier, turning furnace fan “on” not “auto”, opening all drapes and blinds to allow air flow (do not keep blinds or heavy drapes closed). If you want further piece of mind, a hygrometer can be purchased at any local hardware store (approximately 40% is an optimal amount of moisture).
Need more? Follow these extra tips from Tarion to help prevent moisture damage to your home.
Outside the Home
- Keep flowerbeds or landscaping at least six inches or 150 mm away from the top of the foundation to avoid moisture coming into direct contact with the structure of your home.
- Ensure that land adjacent to the foundation slopes away from the home so that rainwater and snow melt will run away from the foundation.
- Clear eavestroughs regularly and extend downspouts so that water is directed away from your home.
- Fix the caulking around windows and doors and on the roof if it becomes cracked or separated.
- Have your roof inspected regularly to ensure shingles, flashing and chimney caps are in place and sealed properly.
Inside the Home
- In the winter, keep the relative humidity in your home in the range of 30-45%. When using a humidifier, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- In the summer, dehumidify the basement to avoid condensation buildup on the cool foundation walls. Relative humidity levels should not exceed 60%.
- Repair leaky pipes and fixtures immediately. Clean and completely dry any areas that are dampened or wet within 48 hours.
Store organic materials such as newspapers and clothes away from cool, damp areas. Keep storage areas tidy so that air circulates freely.
- If you are adding a hot tub to your home, or have a large collection of plants, consider the amount of moisture they will add to your indoor air and ventilate accordingly.
- Investigate and identify any musty smells and odours. They are often an indicator that there is a hidden moisture problem.
For answers to some of our other most frequently asked questions, click here.