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 2: Help! What’s the Difference Between Relative Humidity and Dew Point?

Many people confuse relative humidity with dew point.  They often hear about dew point on the weather channel, but aren’t really sure what it means. Let’s take a closer look at these two concepts.

To put it simply, relative humidity is the amount of moisture in the air compared to what the air can “hold” at that temperature.  So if I was to say that the relative humidity, which is always measured in a percentage, was 100% that means that the air is holding its maximum water vapor capacity at that temperature.

It’s important to understand that relative humidity is relative to the temperature.  In order to understand this concept, let’s take a look at the diagram below.  The glasses represent the temperature, so the smaller the glass the colder the temperature and vice versa.  When looking at the first glass you notice that colder air has a smaller capacity for holding moisture and has a high relative humidity.  As the temperature increases (glass gets bigger), the air is able to hold more moisture and the relative humidity decreases.   In fact, for every degree that the temperature increases, the relative humidity decreases about 2%.

RH Chart

We don’t always use relative humidity to describe the amount of moisture in the air.  Sometimes we refer to dew point.  The dew point is the temperature at which the relative humidity equals 100%.  Unlike RH, the dew point does not change with air temperature.  In that sense it is an “absolute” measurement of the amount of water vapor in the air.

Dew Point is also a great measure for comfort.  If the dew point is below 60 degrees it is comfortable, but if the dew point gets above 70 degrees then it gets very sticky and uncomfortable.  If you know temperature and relative humidity, you can calculate the dew point using a psychometric calculator or an online calculator, like this one www.dpcalc.org

Come back next week for part three in our series discussing the sources of moisture in your home!

Crawlspace Encapsulation Overview

Video

Homes that are properly encapsulated, continuously monitored and treated with a Santa Fe dehumidifier are protected from both the humid outside air and the ground’s natural moisture. An added bonus is that this strategy minimizes fungi and mildew growth, guaranteeing a more structurally sound and healthier home.
Crawlspace Facts
  • According to a study by Advanced Energy, homeowners can expect to reduce their energy bills by 15-18% by sealing off their crawlspace. They also determined that homes with vented crawlspaces were 19 times more likely to experience relative humidity levels in excess of 70% than homes with encapsulated crawlspaces.
  • As much as 50% of the air in a home’s living space originates from the crawlspace.
  • Most pests are attracted to moist environments; as a result, moisture control is an important part of any fully integrated pest management system.

 

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.

 

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.

Clearing the Air on Low Temperature Operation of Dehumidifiers

There seems to be a lot of confusion on the need for dehumidification when temperatures are low and the relative humidity is high. The real number we need to be concerned about is dew point, which is often overlooked and is confusing.  Dew point is the most accurate measurement of moisture in the air; it is the combination of temp and RH.  A low or dry dew point is anything below a 50-degree dew point.  This can fool a lot of people into thinking their dehumidifier should be running at temperatures of 40, 50 or even 60 degrees.

As temps get colder outside the conditions become dryer.  Air shrinks when it cools down, meaning that its’ ability to hold water decreases as well; this will drive your relative humidity up making you think that it’s moist in your home.  Warm air expands allowing for more water to be held; this will drive your relative humidity down.  When the temperature changes a single degree, your relative humidity (RH) will change an average of 2% – increase if the air is colder and decrease if the air is warmer.

Here are some more numbers for you – the following conditions all have a 45-degree dew point and are considered to be very dry conditions:

  • 95 degrees & 18%RH = 45 degree dew point
  • 80 degrees & 29%RH = 45 degree dew point
  • 70 degrees & 41%RH = 45 degree dew point
  • 65 degrees & 48%RH = 45 degree dew point
  • 60 degrees & 57%RH = 45 degree dew point (This is where there is confusion – no need to worry, the conditions are already dry enough!)
  • 55 degrees & 68%RH = 45 degree dew point
  • 50 degrees & 82%RH = 45 degree dew point
  • 45 degrees & 100%RH = 45 degree dew point

This chart tells you that dehumidification in not even needed when it’s raining out at 45 degrees and 100% RH – this air could easily dry your home.

These numbers are important when it comes to purchasing a dehumidifier based on strictly on low temperature operation – you most likely do not need dehumidification when it is below 60 degrees.  Santa Fe offers a full line of dehumidifiers that operate from 49 degrees min – 95 degrees max.

Santa Fe Compact2 Dehumidifier – Little Design that Delivers a Lot of Punch

The Santa Fe Compact2 was specifically designed to fit into tight, low-clearance spaces, such as crawlspaces.  But don’t let its’ small design fool you – the unit removes up to 70 pints of water a day and can treat spaces up to 1,800 square feet.  No other conventional dehumidifier can perform as efficiently and effectively in crawlspaces and basements as the Santa Fe Compact2 Dehumidifier.

Dehumidifiers: Why Low Temperature Operation is Important

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) requires that dehumidifier manufacturers publish unit performance at 80°F and 60% RH. However, real-world conditions of basements and crawlspaces are much cooler and unit capacity drops dramatically. For example, at 80°F and 60% RH the Santa Fe Classic removes 110 pints per day. At real-world conditions of 60°F and 60% RH the Santa Fe Classic removes 60 pints per day—conditions where conventional units may not remove any moisture at all!

  • At temperatures below 65°, frost forms on the coils of a conventional unit and causes the unit to ice up.
  • Frost cuts down on air circulation so the unit does not remove as much moisture from the air.
  • Some units have automatic defrost but remove a minimal amount of water in conditions below AHAM (80°/60% RH)
  • Once the coil is defrosted the cycle starts all over again using a lot of energy but failing to take out an appreciable amount of water.

The Santa Fe free-standing line of dehumidifiers are powerful enough to control humidity even in the cooler environments of basements and crawlspaces.