From managing a home to remodeling or building a home involves so many components and so many things to keep track of. Keeping a home in tip top shape is key to homeowners while living there and helps when ready to sell it too. In this journey to not be overwhelmed with maintaining and operating homes, one of the biggest enemies to our homes and all built structures is water. This is why moisture management is critical.
Water is all around us. About 70% of the earth is covered with water. Water is in our lives and homes in many ways – rain and storm water runoff, flooding of rivers, lakes and streams, yet we also are concerned about water conservation. What’s crazy is how many homes get destroyed by water and are covered by insurance claims because of damage by water. Whether it’s flooding, hurricanes, mold and mildew, or busted pipes, there’s been damage to homes and buildings from it.
Water is our friend but it could also be our enemy.
It starts with thinking of water in its different forms from a physics perspective. Vapor or water as a gas affects the humidity in our homes and buildings and we don’t want too much or too little. Striking that balance between 30 and 60% keeps us and our homes in good shape. Then there is water in its liquid form from plumbing and rainwater coming from the outside. (We did not talk about water in its solid form – ice – yet it carries its own set of concerns.) As homeowners, we are constantly contending with water and balancing it.
Moisture Management Tips
Too much humidity causes mold and mildew and is a health hazard for many, especially those with respiratory issues. Mold and mildew can get bad enough to cause you to leave your house. Controlling water and humidity in your home is your best defense. You can achieve moisture management by running your exhaust fans to get excess humidity out. Be sure wall coverings, especially in the bathroom and kitchen, aren’t trapping moisture. Check pipes and under sinks for dampness. And be sure you have proper drainage outside so it’s not getting inside.
How to Keep Water on the Friendly Side
While many homes built now are better suited to address water issues, older homes often were not. If you are in an older home, be sure to be extra vigilant. Trouble spots in walls where there is plumbing such as ice makers, laundry rooms, sinks, and bathrooms. Since the pipes are in the wall, how do you know there may be a leak. Water leaks leave certain signs in addition to obvious wet spots, such as floors cupping, cabinets warping, or paint bubbling up. If you see any of these signs, look for and address the leak. The sooner you catch it the less damage done.
Also know where your shut off valves are. If there is a problem, you can at least cut the water off. With a little bit of common sense and keeping an eye out for leaks in the obvious places, you can catch many issues before they cause mold and mildew. Leaks in walls are harder since by the time you see it, it may already be too late. If you suspect there is mold or mildew and are cleaning it up, do wear a mask and gloves as it makes many people sick.
Note from Marla – I learned this the hard way many years ago when I was helping to clean up a home that had been vacant for a few years and featured lovely indoor gardens. Mold and mildew were even in the wallpaper as we pulled it off. If you end up in a situation like I was without a mask or gloves (which I recommend!!!), a thorough shower, hair washing and clothes washing as soon as possible may help mitigate some of the symptoms.
The secret in our homes with all this water and moisture around us, is figuring out how to keep the balance.
- Moisture Control from Energy.gov
- Homeowners Guide to Moisture from HBA of Denver and Tri-County Health Department
- HomeNav – GreenTain for Green Living section (account registration and login required)
- HomeNav – Maintenance Checklists (account registration and login required)
For more information about green homes and green living, check out GreenHomeCoach.com. Every week on iTunes and The Green Gab Podcast, get the gab with us as we share what we’ve done, as well as tips for greening up your home, your job, your family and your life! Get in on the gab for why green matters – to you, your family and friends and your community.
Get Marla’s book Living Green Effortlessly: Simple Choices to a Better Home. For more information about the show, Marla at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tony at email@example.com I’d love to speak at your next event – for ideas check out my speaking information. Thank you and have a blessed day.