Partial solutions yield partial results
Life is spawned from one of the simplest compounds on earth, water. Without water life would not exist. Scientist today search for signs of water on Mars, knowing it is the basis for any life to survive. For all of water’s life giving goodness, it’s the enemy of our homes. Too much can make a house virtually uninhabitable.
The majority of house design is focused on keeping water out or away from the structure. A roof to shed the water, drainage to send it away, more drainage around the foundation and water resistant cladding. For all the water repelling measures incorporated into a house, moisture will always be a part of the indoor environment. And that is fine, because a little is good, too much and bad things begin to occur.
At times it seems moisture control and transport are not always well understood or not thoroughly considered during construction. The trend has been for years and continues to be to tighten up houses for better energy efficiency, yet indoor air quality and moisture control are in my experience not given enough consideration.
Entering the crawl space of a house I was inspecting, the most immediately obvious feature was the entire floor area had been covered in concrete. Not in the expected fashion of a poured floor slab. This particular covering had almost certainly been done over a dirt floor as a means of moisture / water control. What became apparent next was the condensation on the floor joists, insulation and pipes. Beads of water glistened as the beam of my flashlight scanned along the floor structure.
Continuing to scan the crawl space, I discovered I was among multi hued growths of what was essentially a fungal forest. Yellows, whites, blacks, browns and grays. Beautiful alien blooms spread across the wood. In spite of what was thought to be the right repair approach, covering the floor with concrete, the moisture / water remained in over abundance.
In my assessment, there are several reasons the problem has not abated. Most notably is the profusion of water in and around the property. Covering the floor with concrete can help, but is hardly the entire solution. Drainage is needed to move the water away from the house. I found no evidence of any type of added drainage system. Further the gutters were not maintained, with the down spouts discharging against the foundation. Other repairs / upgrades may also help, such as ventilation, air sealing and mechanical dehumidification.
Certainly the homeowner was aware of the moisture problem, for it appeared that some of the wood joists had been coated with something which I assumed to be a fungal inhibitor. It obviously wasn’t having much effect as were the other methods attempted to quell the excessive water / moisture condition.
Partial solutions do not change the tide. Water must be strongly persuaded.