Old Man Winter is here in full force. For us in Madison, WI that means skiing! Ice fishing! Badger Hockey!
What causes the pesky moisture build up on our windows? Humidity, water vapor and steam. These forms of water are present in varying quantities in all air. Moisture in wet air tries to flow toward drier air, mix with it, and balance itself.
Scientist describe this force as “vapor pressure”. Vapor pressure can force moisture through wood, plaster, brick and even cement…right through most of the materials we use to build our homes. That is exactly what happens when moisture seeks to escape from the humid air – usually found inside your home – to the drier winter air outside.
Certain building materials (such as glass window panes) stop water vapor. As our building materials become more advanced, our homes become “tighter”. While this results in more energy-efficient homes, it also means that moisture created by bathrooms, kitchens and laundries can no longer escape easily into the drier outdoors. The modern insulation and construction that keeps the warm air in and cold air out also locks moisture inside our homes. This can quickly create window condensation and harmful indoor moisture levels.
According to Heating & Ventilating magazine, cooking for a family of four adds 4.5 lbs. of moisture a day to a house. Each shower contributes half a pound. Weekly laundry adds 30 lbs. of moisture to the air, and dish washing adds 1.2 lbs. High humidity can greatly contribute to the deterioration of a house and to the discomfort of its owners. What can be done to reduce humidity and condensation in your home?
1. Control sources of humidity. Vent all clothes dryers, burners, etc. to the outdoors. Use kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans.
2. Use winter ventilation. Older homes will usually allow moist indoor air to more easily escape to the drier outdoor air. Newer homes should be ventilated using exhaust fans or even briefly opening doors or windows in a bathroom or laundry.
3. Use heat. The process of heating your home will reduce the relative humidity by providing a drier heat. It will counterbalance most of the moisture produced by modern living.
Image courtesy freedigitalphotos.net