Well know building scientist, Joe Lstiburek, Building Science Corporation, published a great document called: “READ THIS: Before You Move In”. In that document he outlines the seven steps to a healthy home. The areas for a healthy home are: dry, clean, well ventilated, combustion product free, pest free, toxic chemical free and comfortable.
This is my take on the seven areas. The information I am providing is basic. If you have specific questions, please feel free to email me.
Now, let’s look at each area:
Too much water and high humidity create problems in a home from mold and rot to insects and rodents.
Fix any plumbing leak immediately. Know where each water shutoff is located. Unattended, little problems often develop into bigger issues.
Washer and dryers –
If you have old washing machine hoses, change them out to the newer braided lines.
Dryers produce hot, moist air. Exhaust dryers to the outside. Check the dryer attachments for proper connection, hoses for leaks and vents for obstructions. Birds love nesting in dryer vents. Wire mesh type covers keep birds out. The wire mesh also traps lint. Clean the mesh cover at regular intervals.
As a note, green building programs recommend front load washers and dryers. Front load units do not add to the homes’ humidity. Leave washing machine doors open after each use to allow the inside of the machine to dry.
Cooking creates moisture, especially boiling water. Use the kitchen exhaust fan to remove cooking generated moisture. If possible, vent the kitchen exhaust hood to the outside.
Bath fans remove humidity. We tend to turn the exhaust fan off when leaving the bath. It takes time for the fan to remove the room moisture. Consider installing a timer on the fan to allow extended operation. Open shower curtains and doors after use to allow air movement and drying.
If your basement is damp use a dehumidifier.
Newer homes typically have a foundation drain system where under ground pipes direct ground water to a sump pit. A sump pump then ejects the ground water to the outside. Check the sump pit and pump. Is the sump pit clear of debris? Does the float work correctly? Are the connections tight? On the outside of your home extend sump pump drains away from the home to prevent a re-circulating situation.
For older homes that have basement water problems, it is possible to install a similar foundation drain/sump pump system.
With recent power outages, there has been a lot of talk about battery back-up sump pumps. Do they work? Yes, if sized correctly, they can provide short-term protection. The batteries require regular maintenance.
My experience with painting block or brick foundation walls (interior side) with waterproofing has produced mixed results. If waterproofing didn’t work, our next step was to install a drain tile/sump pump.
Finally, dry basements start with proper exterior grading and extending downspouts away from the home.