House-A-Tosis is my name for sick house syndrome. While sick house syndrome is no laughing matter, it does not have to involve your house. With information in hand on the subject you can be proactive in dealing with this potentially harmful situation. So relax, your house may be sick, but with knowledge we can fix your house by taking things one step at a time.
The one basic cause of House-A-Tosis, is trapped gas. There are a lot of different types of gas but the two major gases involving homes are moisture vapor and earth born gases, like Radon. While cooking can produce some unhealthy gases, they are limited in nature, unless you cook 24-7. House-A-Tosis is caused by the retention of unwanted gases.
What is to follow is my approch to areas pertaining to a house that contribute to House-A-Tosis. Of course these are my observations and opinions, and are open for discussion. Let me hear from you.
I shall break your home into topic areas and go from there;
1. Exterior area: The main thing here is water control from your roof. Gutters are about the only way to control the water off your roof, so keep them clean. Watch for ponding anywhere in the yard and stop the ponding as soon as possible.
2. Roof : Leaks can do a lot of damage in a short time. Some of the worst damage/mold I have seen had to do with improper flashing. Water that enters the wall cavity and cannot dry out quickly is bad. Your first sign is uselly mold forming on the sheetrock.
3. Siding: Most siding does a good job of repelling water. The one standout in a bad way, would be Exterior Foam Finished Insulated System (EFFIS). Penetrations in the system allowed cracks and into the cracks goes water. The water cannot dry out and damage insues.
4. Glazing: About the only damage from glass that I have seen is from within. If you have condenstation on your windows in the winter, you have to much moisture in the house. Most of the time the moisture is coming from your crawlspace. This situation will not be a problem with our system in place.
5. Foundation: Water leaking through the foundation can be a real problem. Depending on the age of the structure, you might have cinder block or poured concrete for your foundation wall. The cinder block is quite porous, while poured concrete will allow moisture to pass through, it comes through slower. the foundation is best sealed from the outside but this is quite expensive and most people put up with the water entry. Landscaping properly may help but not always, ground water may be the problem and not surface water.
6. Landscaping: Proper landscaping can do wonders for your crawlspace. Make the water flow away from your house. If there is no lightning, go out while the water is running and watch how it moves. Any stopage should be addressed the next sunny weekend.
7. Heated area: If you are getting mold on the walls behind the soffa, you have to much moisture in the heated area. Mold in the closet is due to elevated moisture in the house, not just the closet. This has become less of a problem with centeral air systems which remove moisture during the cooling cycle. If you are still having mold on wall surfaces with centeral air, you have very high moisture levels in the house.
8. Ceilings: I like mine white. We all know about water stains and what they mean.
9. Walls: Mold on the walls is not good. If you are getting mold on your walls, you have a moisture problem. If you have centeral air and still have mold on your walls it is time to do something now to stop it.
10. Floors: After an extended amount of time the floors will get soft under foot due to elevated moisture levels. Now we are talking about sistering joist (adding a joist next to an existing one), new joist, or whole new floor system. If you ignore the moisture long enough it will distroy your home, no doubt about it.
11. Penetrations: This sort of relates to the EFFIS siding system mentioned above. But any hole through your exterior cover should be looked at yearly for problems.
12. Attic area: This is a good vantage point to review the roof from below.
13. Roof decking: If the decking is soft under foot, that is bad. When you replace the decking make sure you add more vents to allow moisture and heat out.
14. Rafters: If you can see them in the attic that is the way to go. If you cannot see them in the attic you must look for defections in the roof plain. If you see dips in an otherwise flat surface, you need to contact a roofer you trust to review the situation.
15. Insulation: R-30 is what most houses started with in the last ten years. Now they will blow in R-40 but with time it settles and blows around. You should have your attic insulation topped off about every ten years.
16. Crawl space area: Add my system and all your moisture problems will be dealt with. Kiding aside, knee pads and a good light and about twenty minutes could save you thousands. Look for things out of place, different from the rest. Once you get into that mode. you will start to see the problems.
17. Ductwork: Most people pay no attention to their ductwork until it is wet. If your ductwork is wet your moisture level may be too high. A little bit of moisture on these cold lines no problem. If you are getting pools of water under these ducts, your moisture level is to high. The moisture occures in the summer when the duct is cool and the air is wet. Water can fill flex pipe and pull it down to the ground. The condensation from the metal boot at the floor sweating is normally the problem.
The number one culprit to a structure damage, in my opinion, is elevated moisture. Termites are second, again in my opinion. Think about it, termites love a wet atmosphere, they do not like a dry atmosphere. Termites also like wood that has been compromised/softened by the rot process due to elevated moisture. Reduce the moisture in your crawlspace and termites will think twice coming your way. We can help make your wood a hard target.
Definition: To convert water into vapor. Click here for more information Or; To go from a liquid to a gas.
Evaporation of water to a gas requires energy (heat) for it to happen. We have all felt the cooling effect of evaporation after a swim or shower. As the moisture converts to water vapor or gas, the action requires heat and leaves the skin cool.
We make use of evaporation to dry out the crawlspace with our system. By introducing dryer air into the crawl, we wick the crawl space dry. Because moisture moves from wet to dry and not the other way around, we can dry out the entire area. By consistently introducing the fresh dry air into the crawlspace and removing the water vapor accumulation, we provide the best solution to your crawlspace problems.
The evaporation of water to water vapor, a gas that is lighter than air, causes it to rise up from the ground. In the crawlspace this is the reason the insulation and the pipes show the first signs of elevated moisture. The bottom of the floor system is the top of the crawlspace atmosphere. If water vapor is allowed to accumulate due to dead air, condensation occurs on the material at hand. Some times the plastic on the ground will be cooler than the air and "dew" will form on it as well. When this happens, you have some very wet air.
Damaging moisture accumulates first at the North-Northeast side of the crawl. This side of the structure is relatively cooler that the South-Southwest end of the crawl (the Sun is to our South). During the winter, if the moisture levels are very elevated, vapor condenses on the wooden members, causing rot to occur. Once the wooden members reach 20% moisture content the cellulose fibers start to break down (rot).
I have seen virtual rain forest atmospheres within the crawlspace area, such as water dripping off wooden members as well as the ductwork and pipes. The water drips to ground and pools accumulate until evaporation takes the vapor back up to the floor system where it condenses and drips off once more. At this point the area is at 100 percent relative humidity and damage is inevitable.
How do you look for and address any crawlspace problem in a logical fashion?
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