LESLIE: Sharon in Chicago listens to The Money Pit on WYLL. And what’s going on in your house?
SHARON: I’m having a problem with sweaty windows. And it leaves like a mildew residue there. And you know, I guess my house is filled with moisture. So, you know, what can I do about that?
LESLIE: What are your windows made out of, Sharon?
SHARON: That I’m not sure of.
LESLIE: Like the framing themselves. Are they aluminum, wood, vinyl?
SHARON: Oh, OK. They’re wood.
TOM: And do you know that you have – if you have thermal pane windows? Is it two panes of glass thick?
SHARON: No, it’s not.
TOM: It’s single.
LESLIE: Is it single-pane?
TOM: And what kind of a heating system do you have in your house? Is it forced air or hot water?
SHARON: It’s forced air.
TOM: Is this a single family house?
TOM: The – there’s a number of things that you can do here. First of all, the problem is humidity management and moisture management. So you need to sort of take a global approach to this, Sharon, and look at all of the places in your house where moisture gets in. So, for example, start on the outside. Look at the grading, the angle of the soil around the home. Look at the downspouts and make sure that the water is extending out well away from the foundation. If you keep those first four feet or so dry around the house, that means there’s less moisture that’s going to get into the house.
Now, is this on a basement?
SHARON: No – well, I do have a basement and I do have a problem in the basement as well. But …
TOM: Yeah, I bet.
SHARON: … this is mainly upstairs where I’m having the sweaty windows.
TOM: Yeah, I bet you are because if you have a moisture problem, it’s going to evidence itself throughout the entire house. So look outside for the grading and the drainage issue. Now, in terms of inside the house, look at all the places where you can manage moisture. So for example, the kitchen.
LESLIE: Kitchen, bathroom.
TOM: And making sure that those fans are operational and also vent outside. And finally, look at the attic space. The attic needs to be properly ventilated because that moisture, that vapor pressure is going to work its way up through the entire house and end up in the attic space. And once it gets there, then it needs to be released. And the way it’s released is through ridge vents and soffit vents and good, proper attic ventilation. So dealing with this isn’t just a matter of replacing your windows; although that would help because it sounds to me like you have single-pane windows …
LESLIE: Which are just not energy efficient at all. Since you’ve got forced air in the house, it might be a good option for you to think about getting a whole-house dehumidifier which works in conjunction with your heating and cooling system to pull all the moisture out of all of the air in your house, rather than just a portable dehumidifier unit. And this will pull out 90 pints of water a day. So it sounds like you’ve got a terribly moist situation in your house. It might be good for you to install one.
TOM: Probably the best brand on the market is Aprilaire – April-a-i-r-e. You can get more information at Aprilaire.com. And that will do a really good job of managing the moisture problem.
LESLIE: And it’ll actually help keep your house cooler in the summer months because it’s the humidity and the moisture in the air that makes you feel sort of clammy so you lower that air conditioning and actually, you know, crank up your cooling cost. But if you can get that moisture out, you can actually set the temperature higher; you know, thus making your cooling costs a lot less than they would be. So, those are some things to look into but I would do them all; not just one.
TOM: Sharon, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.