Sunday, January 21, 2007

Drips and Drops

A question often posed to bermed home owners is if your house is damp. We have had some moisture battles - but not what we expected.
--We installed plastic tubes extending from the stone layer under the slab up through the roof in case of excess radon. Radon can be a problem in Maine and when in a bermed house, very difficult to retrofit. The floor always stayed wet around this tube. It seems the damp air from the ground (this is a bumper year for precipitation) drew up the tube - then condensed when it cooled and ran down the pipe. There is a connection just above the floor in the wall between the garage and study which allowed this condensation to ooze out leaving this permanent damp area in the concrete. We tried covering the top of the pipe to no avail. Finally, a few weeks ago, we gave up and opened up the garage wall - taped the pipe and now it stays dry. The physics of this phenomenon are mind boggling.

--The other challenge seems to be the south wall of windows. The humidity in the house is still fairly high due to curing concrete and plaster walls (my new weather station, a Christmas present from David, reads around 50%). We have been running a dehumidifier and dumping gallons of water, but the windows still steam every night and every time we even think about cooking something. A simple spaghetti dinner can cause streams down the panes. It dawned on us that in conventionally heated houses, the heat is always placed under the windows. Does that mean that the temperature differences will always cause this to occur? No solution yet - but we have decided that the sills will not be wood - probably cultured stone. And when we have the south wall finished, we will install quilted drapes to help isolate the heat from the cold. Until then, its towels and more hours of the dehumidifier. At least when the sun is shining, they dry out.
And watching the thermometer rise to near 80 without any auxiliary heat on a sunny day when it is 4 degrees outside makes it all worth while.

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