House humidity issues/questions

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House humidity issues/questions

Postby Defence21 on Mon Oct 21, 2013 3:20 pm

In our three years in our home, we've dealt with varying degrees of humidity, using various techniques. The end result is that nothing has changed.

Here's the deal: in the summer, our house is about as humid as it is outside, which I would assume is pretty common. When we run our window AC units (one of which has a dehum. feature), the humidity reduces. We also run a dehumidifier 24/7 in our basement during the summer. It's not an overly humid basement, but we pull about 45 pints a day. The problem, however, is in the cold months. Starting in October, our basement unit begins drawing less water, but we also begin to notice the humidity more on our ground floor and second floor. At this point, we take the dehumidifier to our second floor and run it pretty steadily to reduce what is around a 75-85% humidity.

We do not have a range hood, but have a handyman scheduled to come and install an externally-venting on in the next month. We also run a 50 CFM vent in our small bathroom. My plan was to upgrade to 100+ CFM, but the rafters in my Cape Cod won't allow for a housing that is larger than 5 inches deep, and all larger units also are larger in size.

In terms of big spending, we've replaced our old, creaky windows with new, custom fit windows and also had a new roof and ridge vent installed, figuring that humidity rises with hot air and should, theoretically, vent the same way. I've been told to get a whole-house dehumidifier, but we run our heat through cast iron radiators, not forced air and therefore have no ductwork.

We've run into two isolated incidents of mold-growth on the surface of painted walls and want to avoid more widespread issues long-term.

Aside from just running exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen when showering/cooking and running the dehumidifier 24/7, what else can be done? Who should I seek out to help? Is this the job of an HVAC specialist?
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Re: House humidity issues/questions

Postby Jim on Mon Oct 21, 2013 8:07 pm

Have you had your basement floor checked for moisture? It seems like you have more moisture in the house than you should in the first place. Have the basement slab tested to see if moisture is actually wicking up from under the house. 45 pints a day from one machine is insane considering you are running AC and a second dehumidifier on another floor. I think you need to find the source, not just treat the symptoms.
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Re: House humidity issues/questions

Postby Shyster on Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:39 pm

With the new roof and windows your house is now much more tightly sealed than before. That saves energy, but it also traps moisture inside. I would maybe get a second opinion on whether your attic/roof was adequately vented, and if it is I agree with Jim that you should also have the basement checked for moisture intrusion. Even with the house being more tightly sealed, it seems like you have an unusual amount of moisture inside. If everything checks out, I'm not sure you have much of an option other than buying a couple more dehumidifiers, spreading then around the house, and running them 24/7. You definitely want to make sure you nip that mold problem in the bud since mold can cause nasty health problems.
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Re: House humidity issues/questions

Postby Defence21 on Tue Oct 22, 2013 6:16 pm

Fortunately, one dehumidifier does the trick for our entire second floor, and the first floor seems to stay okay.

The new roof includes a ridge vent, which our old roof didn't have -- so it actually should be less airtight than it was before.

All that said, I definitely want to have a professional come in and look at our house. The question is, what kind of professional? Should I just call a general contractor or is this something for an HVAC professional? Are there specialists out there for this sort of thing? I'm kind of at a loss as to where to go.

Thanks Jim and Shyster for your input!
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