Protect Your Home from Moisture

Nov 21, 2013

By Staff Writer

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Keeping moisture out of a home reduces the chance for structural deterioration, mold growth and air quality problems. Bolster your home's moisture resistance with these tips.

Identify red flags. According to Phillip Carter, urban regional extension agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, common signs of unwanted moisture include:

  • Excessive, continuous condensation around windows
  • Musty smells
  • Standing water, especially under the home and around the foundation
  • Surface discoloration and stains
  • Mold
  • A higher-than-usual water bill from unseen plumbing leaks
  • Decaying wood and other materials throughout your home
  • Flooding events, such as bursting pipes or excessive rain, that release large volumes of water into or outside your home

Be on the lookout. Make regular home moisture inspections a priority. "It's important to inspect more—around walls, on the roof, under sinks, near water lines and so forth," says Carter. "A lot of the problems I see may be hidden leaks and by the time people notice them, they have a real mold problem."

Control humidity. Your home's relative humidity should be roughly 30 to 50 percent, says Carter, who recommends buying an inexpensive hygrometer to keep tabs on your home's humidity levels. Some tips to combat humidity: Run a dehumidifier, decorate with moisture-absorbing houseplants and set your air conditioner's fan to automatic. Get more tips for conquering humidity from State Farm®.

Right-size your air conditioner. All too often, people invest in oversized units, says Carter. "And that's not good, especially in the South, because it doesn't run long enough to remove enough moisture from the inside air and can cause tiny water droplets to collect on surfaces," he adds. Also keep your unit's condensate drainage line to the outside clean and clear of debris. "Keep plants and shrubs trimmed several feet back to ensure good air flow," says Carter.

Monitor drainage. Your gutters and downspouts should drain away from your house. "Water should never linger near your home's foundation," says Carter. Carter recommends checking your gutters every two weeks for leaves, acorns and pine needles. "Take a leaf blower and water hose with a strong jet to remove trapped debris," he says.

Vent. Proper circulation prevents warm, moist air from condensing on cooler surfaces through evaporation. Carter recommends these ventilation best practices:

  • Ventilate your attic and crawl spaces
  • Vent all interior exhaust fans to the outside
  • Run bathroom ventilation fans while showering and for 5 to 10 minutes after showering
  • Install louvered doors or louvered devices installed into walls to provide air circulation for small rooms and closets
  • Use ceiling fans
  • Open doors and windows when possible

Beef up barriers. Carter recommends boosting your wall and attic insulation based on your climate. (Find your recommended level of insulation from EnergyStar.gov.) "This way you don't have a huge temperature contrast," says Carter. He also recommends adding a 6–8 mil-thick vapor barrier under your house to keep vapor from going up through your flooring.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. Nor is it intended to effect coverage under any policy. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information. We assume no liability in connection with the information nor the suggestions made.

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