Indoor Condensation

Its raining, its pouring… INSIDE MY HOME! What is going on?

INDOOR_CONDENSATIONCondensation, water coming out of the can lights, drops forming on my cathedral ceilings and unlimited amount of condensation on my windows, ice on the nails in my attic…. Is this an insulation issue? The answer is a solid “maybe”! What do I mean by that. Yes, good insulation will stop condensation from occurring if you have that good insulation installed everywhere. But if you have outstanding insulation and poor moisture management, you will still have condensation on your windows so… All the steps that I talk about in this blog are required PRIOR to any upgrade in the insulation. In this blog I hope I will offer you the steps my 14 years in insulation suggest are the right steps and in the order, we suggest doing them.

The first question I ask when talking to a potential customer about a condensation issue is, “Is this the first issue you are having or has this been an ongoing issue”? Have you changed anything? Have you done any construction? Is your roof leaking? If you say it is a new issue and never happened before the first thing, I suspect is the possible addition of a whole house humidifier or a malfunctioning whole house humidifier. It is shocking how much humidity that a whole house humidifier can introduce into a home. The ideal humidity level in a Chicago area home during the winter is 35-40%. Humidity levels in the 40-50% range may or may not be an issue but are defiantly high. Any humidity during the winter in your home at or above 50%, you defiantly have a moisture management issue in your home!

What is the humidity in your home? What is the humidity in various areas of your home? Are there areas that have more or less humidity? These answers help me with the solutions required to reduce or eliminate the humidity issues found in your home found in the form of condensation. I often suggest during the first phone call that people should buy the boring, simple analogue humidity sensors and have a notebook that they keep track of the levels reported by these simple humidity sensors in various portions of their home over a few days and note any changes. Many fancy thermostats show humidity levels on them. I am astonished at the number of these fancy thermostats that do not report the levels accurately compared to the simple analogue humidity sensors. I am doing what I can to help you solve these issues without ripping out walls and doing construction. It’s not that I don’t want to help you, it is simply that I want to solve the issue now as you plan to do everything in your power to stop the damage condensation can cause in your home over time. If you have a whole house humidifier, the first thing I suggest is that you turn it off and see if the issue goes away. If that makes the issue go away, it is unlikely that you will want to forego the benefits of not having dry skin all winter so, once you have discovered that the humidifier either is or is contributing to an issue you can start the process of turning the whole house humidifier back up again until you have an issue again and then you can back it off to the level just below the level where you have condensation on the windows. The windows will always be the first area where condensation will occur because they the easiest cold surface where you can identify this issue. If you have a steam shower, is condensation only an issue on the days you use the steam shower? One family called me after we installed foam to complain a year after the foam was installed that suddenly they had a condensation issue. I set an appointment and went out to investigate what had changed. As I started to open the kitchen door to the garage, I was told that I was not allowed in the garage. As I inquired about what was in the garage that might contribute to the humidity, I was told that they has filled an indoor small pool in the attached garage… Suddenly we discovered the source of the condensation issue.

Any humidity during the winter in your home at or above 50%, you defiantly have a moisture management issue in your home!

If the whole house humidifier is not the major issue, and you to not have an above ground pool in your attached garage the next question we work to solve is the management of the humidity in your home. Do you have bathroom fans, do you know if they work, do you know if they are vented properly through the roof? That’s a lot of questions but it is the #2 issue the is most common issue is the lack of properly running bath fans. We take showers, we cook, we do many different things in the winter that produce airborne moisture in the form of humidity. In order to reduce or eliminate these issues, we must ensure that bath fans are there to help us reduce or eliminate these issues. One option that we install almost weekly is humidity sensing bath fans properly vented through the roof. Adding one or two of these to a house is a simple and effective way to immediately make a difference in the amount of condensation in your home.

Condensation issues occur when you have high humidity and cold surfaces. It is common during renovations that mold is discovered behind the drywall in the cavity after demolition. The other area we see this often is in attics with ice on the nails during the winter or rusty nails the rest of the year offering clear evidence that at some point moisture has condensed on these nails, likely during the coldest portions of the winter. When we do attic inspections it is a very common thing for us to see. When we see these issues in attics, we look to see if the bath fan is vented into the attic due to the duct being improperly installed or just a lack of awareness of the maintenance required. In these cases, we are often being asked to look in the attic due to frustration with the lack of performance of the existing insulation and frustration with seams or taping that is swelling in the ceiling and requiring frequent painting… or of course the classic complaint that the house is uncomfortable. In these cases, we must first fix the ventilation of the humidity to the outside, remove the existing insulation, and foam the roof/ attic floor.

If the condition issue is on your cathedral ceiling, this is the most costly but biggest change of all. Yes, we can fix it. Many of these cathedral ceilings were installed without spray foam insulation. In these cases, all the above steps are recommended. Additionally, I suggest that the fan on your central air/ heating system is left on to circulate air during these issues and in cases where you have a ceiling fan I strongly suggest you turn the ceiling fan on on Winter mode so that the air is being pulled from below and circulated against the ceilings to reduce the condensation present. Without relief from these steps, the solution is to remove the drywall, foam the roof and reinstall the drywall. In these cases, all the above steps must also be reviewed.

If you would like to talk to us further, do not hesitate to call us for either an in-person consolation or a FaceTime/ Google Meet evaluation of your home issues.

Comfort is only a FOAM CALL AWAY! 847-987-3626

About the Author, Tom Decker

With ten years of experience selling spray foam insulation in Chicago, Tom Decker is THE person to call and the Chicago Green Insulation is the organization to hire when you are looking for top notch quality and performance as well as someone who can deal with the needs of code officials, home owners and general contractors. Call the others in Chicago, if you are interested in the cheapest price, call Chicago Green Insulation if you are interested in using your dollars to make Chicago a better city for all of us!

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