In addition to causing headaches and destruction, water damage also has an adverse affect to the indoor air quality of your home. Damage from water can cause wood rot, insect infestation and mold.
The obvious causes of water damage are leaking roofs, windows, doors, foundation cracks and visible plumbing leaks. These are fairly easy to identify, enabling a quick repair before maximum damage occurs and your bank account really takes a hit.
The not-so-obvious culprits are moisture behind finished basement walls that are insulated with fiberglass, poor grading around foundation walls and air leaks that occur between the living space and attic.
Insulation & Foundation
Insulating finished basement walls with fiberglass is not a good idea. Fiberglass absorbs water, not allowing it to travel through the wall, which prevents a drying effect.
Some people think installing a plastic barrier in the wall is the answer, but this approach only traps the moisture. A better solution is to use rigid insulation (also known as blue board). This insulation is semi-permeable and admits moisture through the wall, allowing it to dry.
Water can also enter the basement if the grade of the land is pitched toward the house. Grading the soil away from the house and adding rain gutters will guide rainwater away from the house.
Typical leakage points between the house and attic are:
- Leaky attic hatches
- Holes drilled for plumbing pipes and electrical wires that penetrate the attic and are usually not sealed
- Recessed light fixtures that are not the airtight type
- Exhaust fans that vent directly into the attic
Air Conditioning Systems & Ductwork
For those of you who live in warmer climates, ice dams aren’t typically a concern; however, your air conditioning unit can be a cause for water damage. AC systems that are oversized (a larger capacity than necessary) or poorly designed will not remove enough humidity, which leads to high moisture levels that condense on cooler surfaces.
Duct systems that are imbalanced can draw outside humidity through walls that can produce water in the walls. Mitigating these problems requires a professional.
Hiring an Expert
Hiring an insulation expert who specializes in building science (also known as a building performance specialist) will ensure the job is done properly and safely. These specialists come equipped with tools such as blower doors, pressure gauges, etc. to quantify the measures taken for the repairs.
The same goes for the air conditioning specialist, ensure he/she has the appropriate diagnostic tools to test your ductwork’s design and performance efficiency.
The Final Touches
Once repairs are made, it is important to have air sanitizers running throughout your house in order to eliminate any mold or debris not visible to the naked eye that have been left behind.
With your water damage out of the way, your house will feel more like home, you'll save money on your energy bills and your indoor air quality will be improved.