Moisture is the common enemy of homeowners. It has wide-ranging implications, from structural home damage to health consequences.
High moisture levels damage the foundations of your home. It accumulates on various surfaces and causes paint to peel, wood structures to rot, and electrical wirings to short circuit. Pests like cockroaches, termites, and other bugs are also known to thrive in damp areas of the house. Dry, wet spots also encourage mold growth and cause health problems, such as throat irritation, nasal stuffiness, coughing, and even skin irritation.
Apart from compromising your health and your home’s structural integrity, high levels of indoor moisture may also cause your energy bills to soar. Too much humidity, which is the moisture content in the air, feels heavy and uncomfortable on the skin. This forces you to up your cooling system usage, potentially increasing your utility bills.
Your number one defense against high humidity is insulation. But first, you have to know how moisture enters or builds inside your home, so you know how and where to reinforce your insulation.
How Does Moisture Enter Your Home?
Moisture isn’t always as obvious as water droplets forming on surfaces. It moves through, in, and out of your house in three ways: air movement, heat transfer, or diffusion through materials. Out of these three methods, air movement is mostly responsible for carrying moisture.
Air currents carry 98 percent of the water content throughout your house, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE). Air easily moves through the cracks or gaps in the walls, floors, or ceilings. Aside from carrying moisture, the drafts that pass through your house also let out warm or cool air, decreasing the efficiency of your HVAC system.
The most effective moisture control strategy for this situation is by sealing all the unintended paths of air movement in your house.
But even if you block all the unwanted air current routes, moisture naturally builds in your home. Various activities, such as dish washing, clothes washing and drying, cooking, and bathing, increase the water content in the air. Some heating equipment like kerosene burners and vent-free natural gas heaters also increase humidity.
This is where insulation comes in. A well-insulated home regulates the level of humidity inside and prevents moisture from seeping into different surfaces.
Plenty of homeowners know the value of wall insulation, mostly for energy efficiency purposes. But many are still unaware of the significance of attic insulation.
Attic Insulation: Blanket, Loose-Fill, or Spray Foam
Generally, humid air is less dense than dry air because the water molecules make it lighter. This makes humid air naturally rise. An uninsulated attic may allow moisture to pass, through cracks on the surface or via diffusion. When moisture seeps into the attic, it may damage ceiling joists and other vital wooden structures.
Warm air can also escape the house through the attic, since it rises naturally. When this happens, cold air will refill the space, forcing your heater to work twice as hard to warm the room again.
Also, moisture condenses into water droplets when the humid air contacts cool surfaces. This is a huge problem for uninsulated attics, especially during winter. As snow falls on the roof, it also cools the ceiling. And as the humid air rises from the lower rooms to the attic, it may form condensation when it hits the ceiling.
Choose from blanket insulation, loose-fill insulation, or spray foam insulation for your attic. Blanket insulation comes in batts or rolls, so it lends itself well to DIY solutions. This type is ideal for attics with uniformly spaced joists and beams and very little obstructions. Make sure the batts of the insulation material fit the vents snugly for maximum efficiency.
Loose-fill insulation, on the other hand, is more ideal for attics with limited space. The loose insulation material easily fills small areas with multiple obstructions. The material should be fluffy, but over time, it loses its volume and effectiveness. You may need to add more if your insulation looks flat or doesn’t rise over the floor joists
Spray foam insulation offer the highest R-value, which refers to the material’s resistance to heat transfer. The closed-foam cells contain gas that allows them to expand and fill even the tiniest spaces. This insulation gives you a solid, protective barrier against humidity and air flow. Unlike blanket insulation, spray foam isn’t a DIY project because it requires special tools and safety gear. An experienced spray foam contractor will ensure that the foam is applied and cured properly to prevent it from cracking or breaking and emitting foul odor.
Apart from the attic, the foundation of your home is also prone to moisture damage, mostly because of capillary action.
Capillary action or wicking action refers to the ability of water to travel through a porous material, even without the help of gravity. The most probable source of moisture problems in the foundation is water leakage. This holds true whether you have a crawlspace, slab-on-grade, or a basement.
The water from the leakage flows through porous material, such as wood, concrete, and other masonry materials. It can also result from water entering from the foundation through cracks or holes on the basement. In this instance, the first step would be to check for any damage that may allow water to pass through so that you can address them. Otherwise, insulating cracked floors and walls will only give you wet and ineffective insulation.
An uninsulated or poorly insulated foundation poses grave structural issues to your entire home. Since most foundations are built from concrete, heat loss is also very likely because the warmth can escape through the concrete’s pores. This energy loss can rack up your utility bills, especially in winter.
Insulation for the foundation is more complicated than the attic’s because it’s heavily in contact with the ground, groundwater, and other factors that increase its risk for moisture problems. Insulation solutions will depend on the type of foundation, depth of the footing, style of construction, and the local climate. An insulation contractor will help you determine the specifics necessary to identify which moisture control solution is best for your home.
A+ Service from A+ Insulation
A+ Insulation is your trusted insulating company in Kansas City. We provide quality installations as well as excellent customer service. Our team of experts will inspect your house to determine the root of the moisture problem in your home, so we can arrive at the optimal solution.
We pick only the best materials to ensure the longevity of your insulation. A+ Insulation strives to make sure that your house is well-insulated and compliant with state and local building policies.
Schedule an appointment today and have one of our consultants do a free, no-obligation energy evaluation. Contact us here.