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Ever wonder why your walls are wet and laden with moisture, especially in the winter? You can blame the large temperature difference between the outside air and the air inside. It encourages condensation and moisture in walls and windows.
Apart from this, floods, pipe or roof leaks, improper insulation, etc can create a ton of water buildup inside your walls — encouraging mold growth and drywall stain
Structural wood may rot or your drywall might swell. If the moisture gets into your insulation, it will not work properly. As a result, your heating and cooling bills will increase manifold.
A water-damaged house poses great risks for your health and destroys your property’s structure.
Therefore, you need to act fast before this moisture damages your building’s structural integrity, leads to dangerous molds and fungi, or cause life-threatening allergic reactions.
In case you’re buying a house, it’s important to check carefully for areas that may be unprepared to deal with rain and low temperatures. You won’t want any moisture seeping into the structure of the house. This can lead to severely damaged walls.
A general rule of thumb: the older the house, the more the likelihood of seepage. Even if there’s no damp proof course (DPC) and it doesn’t look or smell damp, there is bound to be extra moisture.
Thankfully, there are a number of tips and tricks for wall drying and preventing further damage in the future. But first, let’s a pertinent question.
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What causes wet walls inside of the house?
The science behind moisture in walls is easy to understand. It happens when there’s excess moisture coming in and it can’t get out of your house. As mentioned above, condensation, leaks, and inadequate drainage are generally the most common causes of moisture issues.
It can be hard to know where to start when you want to remove moisture from walls. And, that is why we have put together some effective ways to help you fix this common problem and prevent moisture build-up.
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How to prevent moisture in walls?
Preventing wet walls is not difficult if you know how to. Begin by identifying the places where moisture is likely to build up. Follow the below-mentioned tips on keeping these areas clean and dry — and nip the moisture problem in the bud.
1. Ventilate your home properly
The most important thing you can do is to ventilate your home in order to keep it moisture-free to a large extent. Did you know, even simple human activities such as breathing, bathing, cooking, tumble-drying, etc can cause a formation of moisture in walls?
The fact is, all that water has to go somewhere. If it can’t get out of your home, it will pool.
We are not asking you to completely change your habits and adjusting your lifestyle, but you can, of course, vent your home in order to remove the dampness. Especially, your kitchen and bathrooms.
Ensure that these vents go directly outside, and not to your attic, where the moisture will cause bigger problems. Keep in mind that a vent works only when it’s turned on. There are various vents available in the market, some even with timers or moisture sensors to run long enough to remove all the excess moisture from the room.
Tip: Check for black mold on your bathroom ceiling or around window frames. It’s a sign that the water vapor couldn’t escape and you need to take corrective measures.
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2. Improve your insulation
A practical way of preventing excess moisture is by installing double-pane windows with two layers of glass. This will improve insulation considerably and help reduce the loss of heat. In case you’re getting new double glazing fitted, insist on trickle vents and keep them open. These vents at the top of windows provide the damp air a chance to escape. You can always close them off at your convenience.
3. Install exhaust fans
Install a bathroom exhaust fan and remember to switch it on whenever you take a steam shower. This shall ensure dry air and prevent excessive moisture from accumulating on the walls. Also, if your bathroom has a tiled floor, consider keeping an eye open for grout always.
Today, there are many kinds of commercial fan chandeliers available at affordable prices. These fans attract all the dry air inside the home — effectively reducing the humidity levels.
4. Get a dehumidifier
A dehumidifier sucks in all the moisture in the room and prevents dampness and mold. If you have a portable one, you can move the machine from room to room (around 24-36 hours in each room) whenever you feel the need.
A small dehumidifier can fit cupboards, caravans, sheds, windowsills, and lofts.
In case you use a humidifier for the winter months, ensure that there are no closed-off rooms where the humidity is high.
“Note that the smaller ones will need to be emptied fairly regularly but may be the most suitable depending on the size of the wet area,” comments Ruban Selvanayagam of the modern method of auction specialists in the UK (who often deal with properties with dampness).
Tip: A dehumidifier even helps dry your clothes indoors by sucking the water out of the wet clothes.
5. Use vapor retarders
Vapor retarders are a good way to reduce moisture diffusion through the walls, floors, and ceilings.
What is a vapor retarder?
Vapor retarders are specially treated materials such as paints, plastic sheets, and metallic foils that help to reduce water vapor.
Permeance or perms is the measure of how much water vapor can travel through each material. The lower the perm value, the better is the vapor retarder.
The type of vapor retarder you use depends on whether moisture is more likely to be moving into or out of your house. If moisture moves both ways for significant parts of the year, you may want to avoid the use of a vapor retarder completely.
6. Keep control of mold growth
More often than not, condensation, and hence mold, collects in particular parts of your house. These could be behind large furniture, room corners, under the window, on its frame/sill, or inside cupboards and wardrobes.
Check for any mold and get rid of it by wiping it down with a damp cloth or using a mold spray. Watered-down bleach works great too. You can check other products at your local hardware store or supermarket.
Getting rid of damp and mold is important as damp walls can affect your belongings and health.
7. Redirect excess water away from your house
You can stop all rainwater paths into your home by ensuring that your roofing is in top condition. Furthermore, make sure that your house has a wider overhang to keep the rain away from your walls and windows.
Want another tip to keep rainwater away from your basement walls or crawlspace? Ensure that all water coming off your roof is directed away from your house by creating a slope around your house. You may need to redirect downspouts or install French drains to redirect surface water problems.
Also, make sure that any dripping condensate from your air conditioner is properly channeled to drain away from your house.
When it comes to crawlspaces, you can use thick plastic sheets on the floor as a proactive measure to keep any moisture in the ground from getting into your house.
For the same reason, you need to ensure that all watering systems for your lawn or flower beds do not saturate the ground near the house.
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8. Take care of all the leaks
If you want to prevent moisture in walls, repairing water leakage is important. Most leaks are caused by plumbing problems. A leaky bathtub, sink, or water-wielding appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers are usually the culprit.
Furthermore, water can sneak through roof penetrations such as skylights, vents, or chimneys — causing wet walls.
You need to identify the source of the leak. If you’re unable to, hire a professional and get the problem repaired. Don’t attempt a DIY with damaged pipes, flashing, or gutters. This kind of complex work will require the skills of a plumber or a roofer.
Tip: While you are bathing, do check the caulking around your tub or shower to make sure that water is not leaking into your walls or floors.
Want an expert’s advice on roof leak repair? Take a look at our guide.
9. Install wide windows
When you think about venting to remove moisture, you should also think about where the replacement air will come from, and how it will get into your house. Keep your interiors well-ventilated by installing large windows and doors. Keep them open to let in enough light and air. Don’t let your window treatment curtail natural light. Sunlight can keep the indoor air at a healthy moisture level without increasing your energy costs.
10. Choose your construction material wisely
Different materials hold and pass moisture differently. For example, a brick wall is more prone to allow moisture to pass (and it stores moisture too) than does aluminum siding.
Also, it’s advisable to go for concrete instead of plaster-based interiors in terms of building materials. The latter leads to moisture seepage. Go for eaves on your exterior walls.
You also need to ensure that your kitchen is equipped with conduits and enough air vents. Don’t place any heavy furniture in front of the vents. Also, your kitchen and bathrooms should have good extractors. Opt for non-impregnated wooden furniture.
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A few more preventive tips
- Minimize the number of indoor plants in your house as they release water vapor, leading to moist air and also capture moisture from the air.
- Always dry your clothes outside.
- Invest in good downspout and gutter systems.
- Protect foundations with impermeable films or geotextiles.
- Build waterproof concrete foundations up to 40 inches in height.
- Waterproof the exterior of the walls up to a height of at least 20 inches.
- For perimeter wall coverings, it is recommended that you add a barrier against humidity, which usually consists of a layer of polystyrene adhered to plasterboard.
Any water buildup inside your house is not a good idea. When left unattended, moisture in walls will damage your building’s structure and lead to the formation of harmful mold and mildew.
Thankfully, there are a number of preventive measures so that you can ensure dry, moisture-free walls. After all, prevention is better than cure!