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Jan 30, 2013 3:00 PM  PST  

GreenPointers: Moisture Control 



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GreenPointers: Heating and Cooling


Our series of GreenPointers provides helpful tips for a healthier, greener home in a variety of topics. Today's topic is Moisture Control..

Green Pointers

Damage to homes from moisture infiltration gives homeowners endless headaches. It can also wind up requiring extensive and expensive repairs. What's more, moisture penetration can create conditions for excessive mold growth, which can wind up causing health problems for the residents.

Here are a few tips for keeping out moisture before it becomes a problem..
 
Step 1

RETROFIT CRAWL SPACES

  Crawl spaces are common underneath California homes. Unfortunately, most crawl spaces are underventilated and are often the source of moisture problems in the home. Retrofitting crawl spaces can help reduce these problems

Control ground moisture by covering the entire crawl space floor with a durable vapor barrier (plastic sheeting that is at least 6 mils thick). The vapor barrier can be installed by a building professional or a handy homeowner. Overlap the sheets, pin them to the ground, seal the seams with tape and then apply mastic over the tape. Carry the vapor barrier up the foundation wall as far as possible, preferably above the level of the exterior soil.

Prior to installing the vapor barrier, consider installing a French Drain System outside the foundation wall and in the crawl space to divert bulk water. Consult a moisture control expert for your specific situation.

If appropriate, consider going a step further by completely sealing and conditioning the crawl space. This involves insulating the crawl space walls, closing the vents, and bringing into the crawl space a small amount of conditioned air from the home's heating and cooling system. Consult with your local building department and follow best building science practices.

Step 2

INSTALL PROPER FLASHING

  Flashing is a thin layer of impervious material installed underneath exterior siding and roofing materials to prevent moisture from traveling through building joints. Most major building failures and construction defect lawsuits are related to water intrusion into the building's walls, ceilings and floors due to incorrectly installed or missing flashing. Water intrusion can lead to rot, mold and material damage, and may eventually result in structural problems for the building and health problems for the residents.

Most of these problems can be avoided by taking the appropriate measures during design and construction. Properly flash all roofs, windows, doors, utility penetrations, deck connections to the structure, and any other joints where water could enter the home. Water should follow a natural drainage path that drains away from building elements through overhangs, downspouts and sloped yards.

Building plans should include a wide array of detail drawings that show proper shingle-like flashing of all penetrations and joints such as windows, doors, siding, roofing, roof valleys, decks, sill plates, railings, balconies, chimneys, pipes, vents and utility penetrations.

 
Step 3

CONTROL BATHROOM AND KITCHEN MOISTURE

  Learn more ways to keep moisture and mold in check in our know-how feature on Kitchen and Bathroom Ventilation Fans.

Step 3

GET HELP

  Home performance contractors can run diagnostic tests that search for air leaks and moisture problems, and gauge the home's overall energy efficiency. This process can help you identify opportunities for improving comfort, reducing energy bills, and creating a healthier home. To learn more, read our know-how feature on Building Performance. To find contractors who perform these services, go to www.energyupgradeca.org.


 

Read more tips on sustainable moisture control.










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