April 7, 2006, Newsletter Issue #10: Waiting to Exhale

Tip of the Week

Have you checked your home's breathing lately? You should, because if it is not breathing properly, your home could be retaining water vapor that could cause damage down the road. Houses actually need to "breathe," but modern, tightly insulated homes cannot. Moisture that builds up from an unbreathing home comes from many sources: Cooking Washing clothes Watering plants Taking showers Humidifying the air during winter. Unless indoor air and the moisture it contains can get out of the house, you're going to be stuck with lingering odors, stale air, mold growing on wall paint, and enough moisture condensing on cold windows to create puddles that peel paint and rot window sills. So, what can you do if you have an uptight, water-retaining home? One solution is to install foundation vents. Your home will be better off if it can breathe out some cool, conditioned air in summer and warm, heated air in winter. Though this little exhalation operation may increase your heating and A/C bills a bit, it will remove some of the 7 to 10 gallons of potentially harmful moisture generated daily. Controlling moisture damage is essential when maintaining your home. How many vents will you need? Here are a few tips: If a crawl space has a concrete floor and insulated walls, you can add a series of small foundation vents for aeration. A general rule for the required number of vents is to install 1 square foot of vent for every 150 square feet of floor space (sliding metal vents usually take the place of one 8x8x16-inch concrete block). You may need more vents for a dirt-floor crawl space in a shaded site or damp climate, and fewer for a concrete-floor crawl space in a dry, windy climate. Consult a professional if you don't want to do this yourself.

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