Save Your Hardwood Flooring!

Most homeowners know that purchasing and installing hardwood flooring can cost a pretty penny. And if you’re lucky, you may find some nice hardwood under the carpets of your home to refinish.

I was recently asked by a friend to look at their damaged hardwood flooring. Unfortunately, due to having a vented crawl space their floors they were cupping quite badly.  Cupping occurs when the sides of hardwood flooring are higher than the center of the board giving it a concave shape.

There are many reasons why floors cup. It may be from moisture damage due to the air inside the home being too humid. But in this cause it was due to the vented crawlspace under the floors.  It was allowing very wet air to move from the crawlspace up through the floors into the home. This is called “Stack Effect”.

To prevent this from happening it is recommended to keep your crawlspace below 60% relative humidity by encapsulating it. The first step is to seal all penetrations from the crawlspace to the home and from the outside into the crawlspace in order to prevent humid air from infiltrating into these areas. Then a high-quality vapor barrier is laid on the floor and sealed to the walls of the crawl space.  Once that has been done a dual-exhaust Santa Fe dehumidifier is installed to ensure humidity is controlled at all times.

 

Blog Post 4: Top 10 Signs of High Humidity

For health and comfort reasons, it’s important to maintain a proper humidity level in your home.  While too little humidity can cause discomfort issues, too much moisture can lead to health problems, discomfort issues, and property damage. Dehumidifiers can help remedy these excess moisture problems.  Let’s take a look at some signs that indicate that you may need a dehumidifier.

First, let’s talk about a few signs that you can’t see but can likely feel. These often contribute to health problems and discomfort issues.  Reducing humidity to control these issues will help create a Comfortable Space.

  • High Humidity
  • Poor Air Quality
  • Sticky Feeling
  • Bacteria Growth

Next, is what you can see. These are common visual indicators that you have a humidity problem which is slowing damaging and destroying your Home and Property.

  • Mold/ Mildew Growth
  • Pest infestations
  • Cupping of Wood Floors
  • Stains on Walls and Ceilings
  • Wood Rot
  • Blistering Pain
Signs of Moisture Problems

Some common tell tale signs that you have a moisture problem.

If you’re not doing so already, take a few moments to look around your home for signs of high humidity. You may be surprised at what your house is trying to tell you.

Next week, in our fifth and final post in this series, we will be discussing how a dehumidifier works to control moisture. We’ll see you then.

What Causes Condensation in Crawlspaces and Basements?

In many parts of the country during the spring, summer and fall months, warm, moist air enters the vented crawlspace from the outside and condenses on the cooler surfaces of the walls, floor and ductwork. These cooler surfaces are created within the crawlspace or basement by it being partially or entirely underground and shaded – much like a cave!

DP_condensation_arrows• If the Dew Point (DP) temperature is ABOVE the surface temperature,
condensation will occur.
• If the Dew Point (DP) temperature is BELOW the surface temperature,
there will be no condensation.

SF_condensation_infographCondensation Contributes To:

  • High Humidity
  • Pest Infestations
  • Poor Indoor Air Quality
  • Mold Growth
  • Musty Odors
  • Damage to Property

How do I prevent condensation?

Santa_Fe_Advance2-1Santa Fe offers a full line of dehumidifiers to help prevent condensation in these spaces. Several of the units feature dual exhaust to provide optimal airflow. This airflow helps prevent spot condensate, and in combination with the dehumidification, protects crawlspaces and basements.

The Creepy Crawlies in Your Basement

Most insects are attracted to damp environments, such as crawlspaces and basements. Controlling the relative humidity (RH) inside the home will help to eliminate unwanted condensation that can create a water supply for many pests. It will also help to prevent wood rot and structural damage to the home that creates an environment for pests to thrive.  The only way to control RH is with a dehumidifier that can effectively and efficiently operate in these cool spaces, like the ones offered by Santa Fe.

Santa Fe dehumidifiers

Click image to view larger

From Musty, Moldy Basement to the Manliest of Man Caves

The ultimate man cave features the latest electronics, a big brawny leather recliner, a decked out bar, sports memorabilia, and of course the mandatory pool table and dartboard.  While man caves can be located in garages or a spare bedroom the majority tend to be built in basements.

man cave

Pool Table & Bar BasementAccording to REMODELING Magazine’s 2013 Cost vs Value Report, basement remodels are still one of the top thirteen remodeling projects and typically consist of about a third of the entire home’s available space.  Man caves have become so popular in the last several years there is even a program called Man Caves on the DIY Network that is dedicated to helping men create their own refuge.

Unfinished BasementWhen it comes to transforming the basement into a man cave it is easy to get caught up in all the excitement of how many TVs, where to put the kegerator and how to display classic pieces of sports memorabilia. Getting started by hiding concrete or block behind drywall, wood and carpet is the easy part.

 

But building a manly comfortable space in a basement that won’t encourage mold and mildew or become damaged by condensation is a lot harder.

Molded Sheetrock WallHigh humidity levels will cause moist drywall and carpet will begin to grow mold and mildew, causing musty odors and decay.  It can also affect electronics, rot wood, cause musty odors, and make your new man cave feel like an actual cave!

SmellyGuyIt is recommended to keep humidity levels below 60 percent in basements by using a commercial grade dehumidifier like the ones offered by Santa Fe.

Santa Fe high-capacity dehumidifiers are the most energy efficient on the market and are designed to quietly and effectively operate in the cooler temperatures of a basement. The units help protect all your prized possessions, inhibit mold growth and prevent musty odors. An optional duct kit is available for all Santa Fe dehumidifiers for remote installations.  So if you don’t want to incorporate the manly unit into your new man cave decor, you locate it in another room and duct it to dehumidify your new retreat.

 

Santa Fe Compact Dehumidifier – Customer Story

We love hearing from our customers and it is even better when they send us pictures!  Thank you, Joe Marlow from Brewerton, NY!

IMG_0863“This unit is in a fairly dry basement of a 1700 sq ft colonial. More than enough to do the job. It replaces a number of mass merchant units I’ve had over the years. Two other family members have and swear by Santa-Fe units.”

“I have too much high-end camping gear as well as tools and the usual other stuff in the basement to leave to chance. Glad to have the mission accomplished and the peace of mind that goes with having a quality product.”

Moisture is the Mother of Most Biological Evils

There are many sources that can cause moisture in your home, including:

  • Plumbing, flashing, and roof leaks
  • Damp basements and crawl spaces
  • Cooking, showering, and indoor line drying of clothes
  • Humidifiers
  • Improperly vented combustion appliances and clothes dryers
  • Flooding and sewer backups
  • Poorly maintained gutters, downspouts and drains
  • Landscaping and plants that block crawl space vents and drainage systems

stack effect imagesWhile some signs of excess moisture maybe obvious, like condensation on windows, often times they are hidden in the crawl spaces and basements of the home.  This polluted air below the house will eventually move to the rest of the house, often times carrying odors, contributing to poor indoor air quality and causing uncomfortably high humidity levels.  Studies show that as much as 50 percent of the air in a home comes from these below-grade areas.

Moisture is also the fuel that feeds the fire for mold.  Mold needs water to grow – without it mold cannot grow. Mold also needs a food source and a temperature between 40 degrees and 100 degrees F.

Effects of Moisture on Your Home

wood-rotExcess moisture in your basement or crawl space can cause mold to grow. Mold can grow in or on almost anything in your home, including furniture, carpet, wood, dry wall, and insulation. Too much moisture can also cause wood to buckle, split and even rot, which may weaken the structure of your home. It can even cause peeling, chipping or cracking of paint.

Effects of Moisture on Your Health

dustmitesMold, bacteria, cockroaches, and dust mites have been linked to triggering allergies and asthma attacks and may even cause children who do not have allergies or asthma to develop either condition. Exposure can cause coughing, sneezing, wheezing, upper respiratory irritation and asthma symptoms.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s offers A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home.

Where is the Humidity Coming From in Your Basement?

High humidity levels in basements are often the result of water vapor infiltraUnfinished Basementtion through the foundation walls and the floor, and also from condensation from warmer air against cool surfaces. Because basement walls are in contact with the soil that remains at a constant temperature of 60 degrees or less, basement walls and floors tend to remain cool. Most basements will experience excessive dampness and musty odors in the shoulder seasons due to the rainfall and cool temperatures.  One of the most effective ways to control dampness and odors due to high humidity in basements is by using a dehumidifier.

Santa Fe high-capacity dehumidifiers are the most energy-efficient on the market and are designed to effectively remove excess moisture due to water vapor infiltration. Why is this important?  According to ENERGY STAR website, an ENERGY STAR certified dehumidifier removes the same amount of moisture as a similarly sized conventional unit, but uses 15% less energy. In fact, the annual energy saved by an ENERGY STAR qualified dehumidifier could power your ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerator for 4 months!

The units will also help maintain the structural integrity of your home, minimize mold growth, and improve the indoor air quality of the overall home by removing odor-causing moisture.

Other Causes of Excess Moisture in Basements

  • small-rain-downspout-gutter-3642961-hMissing, broken or poorly installed gutters or downspouts
  • Poor grading around the foundation of the house that causes water to drain toward the     house rather than away
  • Clothes dryer and bathrooms not properly ventilated
  • Leaky windows
  • Cracks in the foundation or floors
  • Sump pump failures

How to Dry-Out After the Flood Waters Recede

Knowing how to safely and effectively dry your home and belongings after a hurricane is imperative in the prevention of costly and damaging mold growth, especially in low-lying areas such as basements and basements.

It is important to dry out the water-damaged areas as quickly as possible. Relative humidity levels rising above 60 percent stimulate the growth of mold, mildew, bacteria and other biological allergens, which can potentially create dangerous living conditions.

The first step is to remove all of the remaining floodwater as quickly as possible either by using sump pumps or calling a local restoration professional. After you are sure the basement is safe to enter, follow these steps provided by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Remove and discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected (such as, mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, foam-rubber items, books, wall coverings, and most paper products).
  • Remove and discard drywall and insulation that has been contaminated with sewage or flood waters.
  • Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces (such as flooring, concrete, molding, wood and metal furniture, countertops, appliances, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures) with hot water and laundry or dish detergent.
  • Help the drying process by using fans, air conditioning units, and dehumidifiers.

Drying rates are greatly improved by lowering relative humidity, adding heat and increasing air movement; all functions of a high powered dehumidifier. Experts recommend using dehumidifiers with a regenerative heat exchanger and high capacity fan, like the units offered by Santa Fe. These features are necessary for fast and effective drying.

Not All Dehumidifiers are Created Equal
Santa Fe dehumidifiers feature a large moisture removal coil, regenerative heat exchanger and high-capacity fan, which allow the units to remove 2-3 times more moisture per kilowatt of electricity than a conventional dehumidifier. In addition, Santa-Fe dehumidifiers allow for high efficiency air filtration. These freestanding residential units are built with the same components as the company’s commercial units and as a result are able to remove up to four times more water than the units available at home improvement stores.

Santa Fe high capacity dehumidifiers are the most energy efficient on the market and are designed to effectively and quickly remove excess moisture due to flooding. The units can help maintain the structural integrity of your home, minimize mold growth, and improve the indoor air quality of the overall home by removing odor-causing moisture.

If you are unsure about how to clean an item you may wish to consult a specialist. Specialists in furniture repair, restoration, painting, art restoration, carpet and rug cleaning, and water damage are commonly listed in phone books. Be sure to ask for and check references and look for specialists who are affiliated with professional organizations.

Crawlspace Before and After Pictures

Sealing off a crawlspace and removing excess moisture will help control pests, improve overall indoor air quality, protect your home against structural damage caused
by moisture, and reduce your energy bills.  There are several options when it comes to treating your crawlspace based on what region of the country you live in and the local building codes.

The crawlspace featured in these photos is in Charlotte, South Carolina and was encapsulated.  Meaning all opening were sealed, including vents and doors leading from the exterior, also the foundation and the floor were lined with a premium grade vapor barrier to prevent moisture from seeping into the crawlspace.

Before

Inferior vapor barrier

Opossum feces and urine

After

Proper installation of a premium grade vapor barrier is essential to controlling moisture, and as a result, minimizes the pests and mold that thrive in a damp crawlspace.

Also installed was a Santa-Fe Dehumidifier that is specifically designed to operate in crawlspaces.

The Santa Fe Advance Dehumidifier will help reduce excess humidity, making the crawlspace inhospitable for fungi, dust mites, wood destroying insects, and other pests.