“Every breath you take”…Is It A Red Flag?

 

“Every breath you take”…Is It A Red Flag?

 

laundry rack

No “Every breath you take” is the songs’ refrain (POLICE/Sting).

Every breath you expel does add humidity to your homes interior, but that’s normal, no red flags for that.  But…

Seeing a laundry drying rack like the one in the photo Is a big RED FLAG to any inspector.

Why?, Well the modern home is equipped with several exhaust systems located in specific rooms to remove excessive moisture at the source before it can be allowed to spread to places where it will do damage.  These would be laundry rooms, kitchens and bathrooms. Exhaust fans of the same type are sometimes found in powder rooms, but are not required for humidity unless there is a shower or bath installed too.

Laundry racks like this or basement clothes lines have no means of collecting and removing the excess humidity they cause to be introduced. So once observed the inspector is alerted for humidity damage in the cold zones and surfaces.

Typically damage occurs in window components, electrical components in exterior walls and framing wood at concrete basement walls. Humidity that is drawn into or bleeds though to attics can build up as frost and come back in as damaging ‘leaks’. But there will be damage in hidden areas that can’t be visually examined. Any weakness, imperfection or damage that exists in the vapor barrier system is at risk.

Not all houses have perfect vapour barriers. Over time there has been a wide variety in the methods and materials used for these systems. Add to that the normal variations in skills, procedures and execution of construction and you have a wide range in the quality of vapour barrier systems in homes that are otherwise similarly finished and appointed.

Knowing this it is much better to remove extra humidity right at the source when it is being produced. Remember we are not concerned about mirrors fogging up, but if you allow that humidity to disperse then it’s going to show up in other places, hidden places, as damage, rust or rot.

So we recommend (1) setting up the laundry exhaust properly, and (2) using the kitchen range exhaust when cooking and not just for odours. When you’re having a bath or a shower (3) run the fan with the door closed while you are using it and for up to an hour after you are finished.

Operation of theses systems does have an energy cost, but it is far outweighed by the cost of damage repair required if they are not used. Consider providing timer switches for fans so they can be set and left.

For rental property it is a good practice to wire bathroom fans directly with the light switch. Most renters are less aware of maintenance than property owners.

And finally if you must dry clothes on a rack or line, set it up like these people in a room that has an exhaust fan, close the door and run the fan, at least for the first few hours.

 

 

 

Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post

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Believe It Or Not, It’s Just “Hanging In There”.

 Believe It Or Not, It’s Just “Hanging In There”. Yes believe it or not this is rot. Ordinary wood rot is the process of decay due to the breakdown of the wood fiber components as they are exposed to mold, micro-organisms, insects and water. This is a complete ecology with the mold eating the wood and other things feeding on the mold and weakened wood and others feeding on them, etcetera, etcetera. rotten veranda post. It can occur right before your eyes, as in this case, as well as in hidden locations. Primarily all that is required is the relatively frequent recurrence or constant presence of water. Other than that it’s the right temperature range and the ubiquitous presence of mold spores and the rest of the micro-biology team. (They’re always waiting in the wings.) Here this is outdoors on a secluded corner of the veranda, and the caulk that was used to ‘seal’ where the wood and concrete touched is still there.  Caulk only works between some materials, in drained conditions and is the back-up to proper flashing or other separation controls. Caulking instead of the classic separation and flashing details will only work for a short time. Here’s the shocker (for some);Believe it or not –  Just like copper is a conductor for electricity, concrete (and cement and masonry) conducts water.  It does not have to be cracked or broken to transmit water to wood in contact with it. Just being in touch, in contact is sufficient. That’s why framing sills (mud sills) and basement wall shoe plates have to be gasketed between the wood and the concrete. Old school material was tar paper. Now there are rolls of foam plastic/vinyl gasketing available in widths to match the dimensions of the wood. So in this case the caulking sealed out nothing. It actually prevented drying of the wood here which would have preserved it longer. The concrete conducted water to the face end of this 4×4 column and the end grain would draw in the water by capliarry action, similar to a straw but driven by chemical affinity rather than suction forces. This is how water moves in the living tree. So evert time this concrete surface got wet from weather or garden watering it delivered water to the wood. The paint and caulking kept the water in place so the wood rotted. Believe it or not, this was pressure treated wood. The rest of the column is dry and has no rot.  The guaranty or warranty instruction for this product promises that it will last for 20 years outdoors provided it is not in contact with water or water retaining materials. It can even be in ground contact as long as it rests in a drained gravel bed. Fortunately for this homeowner this column is not structural. It’s just “hanging in there”.   Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post