Excess moisture in any home can cause mould, mildew and both wet and dry rot. These can have very serious health effects, ranging from allergies to asthma or pneumonia. Moisture also leads to damage to the main structural elements in a building and might require mould removal.
Origins of Mould & Moisture
Moisture in the form of damp and condensation has a variety of causes. It could start as humidity from cooking, showering or washing clothes in unventilated spaces. Leaks in the plumbing, wet footwear and even splashing around sinks and baths can cause damp accumulation.
Water and humid air can seep through chipped paintwork and building cavities and through the whole of the building structure, including the foundations. If it cannot dry quickly, it can cause structural damage.
The best way to control moisture in a home is not to allow it to enter the building in the first place. Any moisture that still manages to enter the building or accumulates there from activities such as cooking and washing should be allowed to escape easily outdoors.
The simplest method of controlling indoor humidity is ventilation: open a window or use an extractor fan in bathrooms and kitchens.
The whole of the building has to be sealed correctly to prevent any moisture from entering from the outside. Do not allow any accumulation of soil to build up against a wall. The ground should slope away from the wall to allow for rainwater run-off.
Never plant any shrubs close to the foundations, and avoid watering areas of the garden close to the wall. This will also ensure that the walls of a basement remain dry. Make sure that all ventilation bricks in the basement walls are clear of debris. Basement flooding after heavy rainfall should be dried out with a sump pump.
Any water from down pipes, whether the plumbing or the gutter, should discharge into a drain a few feet away from the house foundations.
Check the roof and exterior tiling for any defects that may allow water to seep into an attic. The best method is an annual inspection when the gutters are being cleared. A small gap can easily be sealed up with a little caulking. Remember that water entering through a tiny hole can cause a lot of accumulated damage.
In winter, warm air rising through the home to higher floors and the attic will come into contact with a cold roof and cause condensation. This condensation can start by creating mould growth and intensify to produce a raining effect within the attic.
As long as the moisture problems in the rest of the house are under control, the attic moisture can be reduced with an air gap between the attic floor and the ceiling of the room below. A properly finished ceiling plastering provides an adequate barrier, together with an anti mold paint additive.