Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021 by Margot Cornelius
It’s amazing how many unseen phenomena in our homes affect our health and the structural integrity of our homes. Something as innocent and benign as “air” can wreak havoc.
Let me explain.
Air acts as a carrier of mold spores and moisture and today we will discuss how the passage of air from your basement through to your attic impacts the health of your home and your family. You may have a few “a-ha!” moment as you read this.
Moisture is ever present in your basement and crawl space in the form of humidity even if you have no flooding issues. Humidity is caused when there is a change in temperature. Here’s how it works. The area under our homes is naturally cooled by the ground. So, on a warm summer’s day when it’s 80°F outside, that warm air enters your home through crawl space vents or wall cracks and is cooled to 60°F. This lowering of air temperature causes the relative humidity to increase which means the air can hold more water. This is not a good thing for your home. Mold thrives on moisture and left unchecked, will turn to rot. The worse part is that as mold grows, it releases millions of spores that can now be carried through all levels of your home thanks to a phenomenon known as “the stack effect”.
The stack effect is a process in which hot air that enters your home through your lower levels leaves through your attic and upper levels. As it does, a vacuum is created below, and new air is pulled upwards through the basement, crawl space, and lower levels. You may already notice the impact of this traveling air circus on your family. If you’re experiencing a runny nose, watery eyes, mild allergic reactions, a scratchy throat, fatigue, or headaches when you’re at home but it clears up when you leave, mold allergens may be to blame.
Mold will also cause you headaches once it’s in your living space. Mold destroys wood, ruins personal property and will most certainly cause structural issues over time.
If you want to control mold, you must control the humidity. That means identifying any areas in your basement and crawl space that air can freely enter. So, seal up your crawl space vents, install airtight basement windows, and insulate your rim joists (a common place for air to enter the lower levels).
Also, installing a dehumidifier will go a long way in moderating the humidity under your home.
Don’t know where to start? We can help! We’ve been keeping basements dry and healthy for 40 years.