Controlling Moisture to Prevent Mold
Your professional builder knows the best techniques and materials to keep mold at bay
We’ve all seen stories about black mold in houses, and no one wants to experience that. But even a new custom home can develop a mold problem if the builder doesn’t use the right construction practices and products. Mold is a part of the natural environment. Since mold spores are always floating around, you need to stop them from settling in moist areas where they can grow.
The key to mold prevention is moisture control, so a critical building objective is to keep moisture in its proper place. That requires a healthy respect for the nature of water and how it moves, so as to find the right solutions to direct, vent, and shed moisture from the home.
A high-performance home will take moisture control under consideration in everything from the structural frame and insulation to the heating and cooling system and even the finishes. Some key practices and products for controlling external moisture are:
- Housewrap. This means applying an air-moisture barrier behind the exterior siding to shed wind-driven rain while venting (or drying out) any moisture that somehow gets past it.
- Flashing. It’s essential to properly flash or seal around openings and then to place windows and doors tight and square in the openings.
- Roofing, gutters, and downspouts. The roof should be “dried in” with building paper under the shingles to shed and direct the flow of water. Also, the roof should be designed to prevent standing water or ice dams and include a reliable system of gutters and downspouts to move water away from the home. This includes making sure the ground slopes away from the home/s foundation.
- Attic insulation. Attic insulation keeps the temperature up there moderate, countering high levels of humidity.
- Basements. Some homeowners install waterproofing membranes that both seal and insulate below-grade spaces.
Moisture can also be generated inside a home also. Cooking, bathing, and laundry can produce a significant amount of moisture vapor (or steam) that will affect finishes and indoor air quality if not properly vented. Your professional homebuilder will specify and install the most efficient kitchen, bath, and laundry ventilation systems to effectively remove moisture from inside the home.
Despite media hype, most new homes built today never experience significant moisture intrusion or dangerous mold growth. That being said, we take the issue very seriously to ensure that our homes meet the highest—and driest!—possible standards of performance for durability and for the homeowners’ health and comfort.
Q: What is “Tyvek”
A: Tyvek is a brand name of housewrap (or air-moisture barrier sheathing) from DuPont, and has come to be, in many markets, the generic term for the product. Not all housewrap is made the same, however, or even performs the same exact functions. Your builder should specify the right membrane for your home’s climate, overall performance goals, and budget.