Homeowners have one enemy in common, which is moisture. It has far-reaching implications from health consequences to structural damage.
If the moisture level is too high, it can damage your home’s foundation. It accumulates on various surfaces thus causing the rotting of wood structures, the peeling of paint, and the short circuiting of electrical wirings. Pests such as termites, cockroaches, and other bugs also thrive in damp areas of the home. Dry, wet spots also promote the growth of mold thus leading to health problems, which include coughing, nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, as well as skin irritation.
Besides compromising the structural integrity of your home and your health, high levels of indoor moisture can lead to higher energy bills. Humidity is the moisture content in the air, and when it is too high, it feels heavy and uncomfortable on the skin, which forces you to increase your usage of the cooling system thus leading to higher utility bills.
Insulation is your first defense against high levels of humidity. However, you must first know how moisture gets in or accumulates inside your home so that you can know exactly where and how to reinforce the insulation.
How Does Moisture Get in Your Home?
Moisture is not always ad obvious as the formation of water droplets on surfaces. It moves in and out of your house in 3 ways: heat transfer, air movement, or diffusion through materials. Of the 3 methods, air movement is mostly responsible for carrying moisture.
The United States Department of Energy estimates that air currents are responsible for carrying 98 percent of the moisture content throughout your home. Air easily moves through gaps or cracks in walls, ceilings, or even floors. Besides carrying moisture, the drafts passing through your house also let out cool or warm air, which reduces the efficiency of your HVAC system.
Sealing all unintended paths of air movement in your home is the most effective way to control moisture in this situation. However, moisture still naturally builds in your home even if you block all unwanted air current routes.
Various activities such as bathing, clothes washing and drying, dish washing, can all increase the moisture content in the air. Some heating equipment such as vent-free natural gas heaters and kerosene burners can also lead to higher humidity. This is why insulation is so important.
A house that’s properly insulated regulates the humidity levels inside and ensures that moisture does not seep into different surfaces.
Humid air is generally less dense than dry air since the water molecules make it lighter, which makes humid air to rise naturally. If your attic is not insulated or improperly insulated, it can allow moisture to pass through cracks on the surface through diffusion. If moisture seeps into your attic, it can damage ceiling joists as well as other critical wooden structures.
Warm air may also escape your house via the attic because it rises naturally. If that happens, cold air takes its place, which forces your heater to work twice as hard to warm the space again.
Moisture also condenses into water droplets once the humid air contacts cool surfaces. This is a big problem for uninsulated or improperly insulated attics, particularly in the winter. As snow falls on the roof, the ceiling is also cooled and as the humid air rises from the lower rooms to the attic, it forms condensation once it hits the ceiling.