First of all, what is moisture exactly? Moisture is defined as airborne water. Water molecules have attached themselves to air molecules. Visible moisture can be seen in forms such as fog or humid haze. Moisture has a direct relationship with humidity, which has an effect on not only the integrity of your home, but also your health. Moisture is carried by the air, which has a certain temperature. This temperature will determine the amount of moisture contained in the air. Unlimited moisture and heat will result in humidity. (When the air becomes saturated with moisture) This can be up to 100%. The higher the temperature, the higher the volume of moisture the air can hold. The colder the air is, the less water it can carry. This would mean less humidity. Moisture, air, and heat will all try to equalize themselves in any given environment, including your home.
There are several ways in which moisture enters the home. They include rain, leaks, capillary action (the ability of a fluid to flow against gravity), open doors and windows, and watering plants inside your home. In fact, the average person emits .7 gallons of water into the air each day just through sweat and breathing. Just as moisture comes into the home, it also leaves the home, through cracks, leaks, combustion in a furnace, or simply by going through a material.
The unmanaged movement of moisture through your home can cause damage to windows and doors. The moisture also provides the potential for mold, mildew, and fungus, all of which thrive in moist environments. The last thing you want is for your beautiful home to become a breeding ground for these organisms. The moisture can also cause rotting studs, damage to sheetrock, and a diminished insulating value. This means you’ll end up paying more to keep your home warm. One of the most obvious problems too much moisture can cause is an overall uncomfortable climate in your home.
Hygrometers are electronic devices used to tell you the humidity of your home, so that you can better manage it. These can be found at your hardware store. You may be wondering what the ideal moisture content should be for the interior of your home. Most experts say that for optimum comfort, humans need a relative humidity between 30-50%. This also keeps mold, mildew, dust mites, fungus, and fleas at bay.
The good news is that there are many ways to control the moisture problem in your home. During construction, you can opt to use vapor retarders, which resist diffusion of moisture, or water intrusion barriers such as Tyvek housewrap. These cause vapor transport out of your home with minimal air exchange. Insulated basements and crawl spaces can also be used to manage moisture and temperature. Often, a heat recovery ventilator can be installed which brings in fresh air, and reduces your heating/energy bills.
One type of home has a moisture defense system in place by design. Timber frame home use SIPs for their wall structures. These Structural Insulated Panels easily seal against infiltration and exfiltration of water. XPS foam boards, like the ones used in constructing timber frames, are effective when properly insulated, making sure they are thick enough to avoid the dew point. “SIP construction has the highest performance of any common and affordable building material, and works great in combating moisture in any timber frame home,” says Greg Burnshaw, MidAtlantic Sales Rep for Woodhouse, a timber frame company in Pennsylvania.
Moisture will always be a factor in new home construction, but if you prepare yourself with the correct knowledge before building your timber frame home, you can ease the effects of the big moisture problem.
Woodhouse, the Timber Frame Company, is a Mansfield, Pennsylvania-