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Moisture Issues in New Houses


During the first months to a year of occupancy in a newly built home, as the various systems, plumbing fixtures, and appliances are operated and the natural drying of many of the materials used to build the home occurs, you may notice cracks or other irregularities forming in walls or ceilings or even floors. This primarily occurs as the wood elements that make up the framing of the house are subjected to their first thermal cycle – expanding and contracting with changes in moisture or temperature.

This is often most noticeable as the heating system is used, accelerating the normal drying process, causing the wood to shrink and warp a bit. Sometimes even noticeable sounds can be heard as the cracks open up or components move. Small bumps may occur on surfaces of the drywall as the fasteners loosen or are forced out slightly. Dimples may occur as the warpage of the wood pulls secured fasteners back from the surface. The more common use of drywall screws has helped minimize the potential for “nail pops,” however, most new homes will still experience some evidence of this condition. In any case, both dimples and pops are cosmetic issues and relatively easy fixes in most cases.

The drying and shrinkage of wood also cause cracks to form, particularly around windows and doors and other openings where the pieces of framing are different sizes or have different orientations. When wood dries, it can also warp, which contributes to cracking, especially along the length of long members such as a ceiling or floor joists. Another characteristic of drying wood is that it dries from the outside inward. As a result, where exposed, you may see some crack or chip on the surface, particularly around knots or other irregularities. If this occurs the windows and doors affected might need to be replaced, due to damage. In this situation, you might want to search for a professional to assist. In order to do this, a potential search term could be something similar to window replacement in Richmond, for example, but you could use an area more relevant to your actual location. Replacing these features could also potentially help with existing moisture issues in the future.

As the wood and other building components dry out, they actually add moisture to the house air. While excess moisture is not wanted, a certain amount of moisture is beneficial to maintain a reasonable level of humidity inside a home. Maintaining the acceptable level in any home can be difficult, but can be even more of a task in a newly constructed home, or even an older home recently occupied by a new family with different living habits or lifestyles.

Apart from that, higher levels of moisture in the air may cause wooden doors to warp around the lock and press rigidly against the door frame. This expansion can cause problems with your locks, causing them to “jam” more frequently. This problem is especially common for doors on the outside of buildings, as well as wooden door hardware that is more susceptible to heat. To avoid such incidents, strategies such as replacing wooden doors with fiberglass or steel doors may be instrumental. You can also hire an experienced locksmith who might be able to identify any risk factors and resolve any issues that may arise. All you have to do is search the web for ‘Locksmith Bentleigh‘ or any other location you live in, and you can have a list of locksmith services in your area.

Cooking, bathing, or even just the presence of people in a house adds additional moisture to the house air. Moisture from a damp crawlspace and basement can also add significant amounts of moisture to the living area.

The normal opening and closing of doors help prevent the buildup of excess moisture. However, in some cases, mechanical venting will be required. A new home may have a whole-house mechanical ventilation system designed to maintain an acceptable level of moisture by exhausting stale air and drawing in fresh air from outside. But even with these systems it can be difficult to maintain the appropriate moisture level. Additionally, you can check if there is a pipe leakage under the walls and the floor, which might be causing the dampness in your house. One way of checking that: by calling in a plumber, who can inspect all the pipe systems running in your walls and under the floors and check if there is a leakage issue that could be fixed. If left unattended, the situation could escalate to bigger problems such as a pipe burst, which could flood the whole living space. In that situation, you may have to call in ‘emergency plumbing Sydney‘ or other such plumbing services in your area that can come in help during such an emergency.

Also, if excess moisture is not vented properly, it can cause problems such as mold growth, especially as it mixes with other common sources of moisture in a house. If it is the winter season and the windows are very cold, this indoor moisture may show up as condensation on the cold surfaces. Bay windows, due to their projecting design, or north-facing windows, are generally more prone to moisture condensation than other windows.

Exhaust fans installed in kitchens and bathrooms vented to the exterior also help control the level of indoor moisture-laden air. Bathrooms need to be dry and free from moisture. If you have excess moisture in bathrooms, the floor might remain wet. The floor, if left slippery could be fatal to old people and even for people with moving disabilities. If that were the case, and you have installed, a product from absolutemobility.co.uk, or elsewhere, taking their special needs into consideration, a moist bathroom atmosphere would again affect their health. Therefore, it is necessary to pay attention to moisture in the bathroom. Venting clothes dryers to the exterior is also always required to expel the significant amount of moisture-laden air produced during the drying process.

If the moisture level falls too low, you may find yourself with stuffy nasal passages or the victim of annoying shocks from static electricity, particularly when heat is provided by a forced air or electric heating system. Cracking in wooden furniture and dried out skin are other effects of dry air. A properly set and functioning humidifier can help maintain a proper relative humidity level; but if improperly set and maintained, the exc3essive moisture can create significant problems.

If you find you are unable to control your indoor moisture conditions, contact your local HouseMaster inspector or an indoor air specialist for an assessment. Sometimes the source of indoor moisture problems can be difficult to determine without an extensive evaluation; but in other cases, an inspection by a qualified professional can provided a simple solution.

More home safety and maintenance information is available online at www.housemaster.com.

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