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Old 12-17-2010, 12:44 AM   #31
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Indoor humidity


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Originally Posted by oberkc View Post
I assume that the brass device attached to the bottom of the blue-and beige housing is the valve through which water and power flows. Follow the wire from this and temporarily disconnect. The plastic tube coming from the bottom (attached to the black fitting) is likely the drain. Do you see any signs of water here?
I assume that the brass device attached to the bottom of the blue-and beige housing is the valve through which water and power flows.
Yes, I think the water comes from the copper tubing into that piece of brass and continues up through the black tubing.

This is with the cover off
Indoor humidity-humidity-13.jpg

Indoor humidity-humidity-12.jpg

This is with the filter removed.
Indoor humidity-humidity-14.jpg

It looks like the black tubing drops the water into the top of the filter and there are little pieces of plastic that help the water spread across the top of the filter so that it flows down evenly across the width of the filter. At the bottom, it looks like it drains into the tube that goes down into the pvc pipe.

I'm probably wrong though, because it seems like they could have skipped the brass piece and black tubing and just brought the copper tubing up to the top of the filter to do the same job the black tubing is doing.

Everything in there was bone-dry. I didn't see one drop of water.

Follow the wire from this and temporarily disconnect. I'm not sure if I'd be able to do that. I don't know anything about electrical wires and I'm afraid I would probably do more harm than good. But it doesn't look like there are any wires going up into the humidifier.

The temperature in the house is 70 and the humidity is 63%.

Barb

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Old 12-17-2010, 02:05 AM   #32
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Indoor humidity


hmmmm....a perplexing dilemma indeed.

I see that nobody has yet mentioned that gas heat also produces water vapor. I have seen in the past where the difference between a gas heated house and either an electric or wood heated house - otherwise the same - had a substantial difference in the moisture content, or humidity level.

It has already been pointed out that warmer air will hold more moisture than cold air. Now let me give you an example to show how misleading this can be.

In my Whitehorse days, when the temperature would get down to bitterly cold, a humidity reading could be either zero or 100%. This is to illustrate that just the smallest amount of moisture, while the temperature is extremely cold, can show up as either reading. The fact is that the air was very dry. Air that cold simply freezes every drop of water, and at night with lights shining through the air, you can see tiny ice crystals floating in the air.

In your case, comparing the inside humidity to the outside humidity doesn't really mean too much. If the inside/outside temperatures were identical, then you would have a valid point of comparison. But at this time of year...

If you have a portable hygrometer, try taking readings at several specific places in the house. Start close to a heat outlet. Try right by the slider where the condensation is. Make a record of the temperature at every location and check several times to find an average throughout the day and night. Somewhere in the house you should find a higher humidity level, and that is where you may locate your problem.

I think you will find it near the sliding door - which I doubt seals at all. Don't forget that sliders usually have a small air space all around them and are notoriously difficult to seal. With that much water on the top of the door, it seems obvious that there is substantial cold air entering right there.

If you have other options for entering/exiting the house, I might be inclined to seal up both the outside and inside of that door for the winter and see what happens.

To illustrate another point, right now our cabin inside is 67F and 53% humidity. It has been raining here for many, many days and there is water literally running on the ground everywhere here. We leave a kettle on the woodstove all the time to keep the humidity level up. It is the wood heat which keeps the humidity level lower, even though outside the humidity is 82%.

What you need to be looking for is somewhere that cold air is infiltrating the house. As you know I'm pretty familiar with all the work you have done up in the attic. I doubt that is the problem.

I should add that all the previous suggestions are indeed very valid, and I suspect you may end up finding more than a single source of this problem.

If I think of anything else I'll chime in again.
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Old 12-17-2010, 07:35 AM   #33
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Indoor humidity


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Everything in there was bone-dry. I didn't see one drop of water.
It sounds like you have done enough to eliminate this device as a source of your humidity. No signs of water anywhere? Good!

Quote:
I see that nobody has yet mentioned that gas heat also produces water vapor.
cocobolo is correct. Combustion of hydrocarbons (gas, oil, kerosene)produces mostly CO2 and water vapor. This is why I had asked about gas stoves and gas logs in an earlier post (but apparently this was easy to miss). I would be more concerned about unvented combustion (stove, vent-free gas fireplace) than I would be about combustion where the exhaust gasses are vented to the outside, such as a furnace.
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Old 12-17-2010, 09:19 AM   #34
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Indoor humidity


I have to deal with exactly these kind of moisture problems on a daily basis.
It is extremely frustrating to say the least. It looks like you have the obvious stuff covered like fartfans and a cement basement should be adequate.
Range hoods above the stove vented outside are supposedly even more important than bathfans but if you arent heating liquids much then you are OK there.

My main area of suspicion is your attic setup. Tell us more about how you sealed it. Did you lay visqueen plastic? What is your ceiling stackup? Is it drywall covering wood joists filled with fibreglass followed by a layer of cellulose? Although the styrofoam rafter chutes will enable venting of the sheathing, its also sealing off the rest of the attic so that moisture can rise up there causing a "backup" of humidity to build up into the rest of the house. If you also insulated the walls and did other things like new windows, this effect will be exacerbated.

How about the walls? Is there visqueen in there? any other insulation upgrades?
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Old 12-17-2010, 11:40 AM   #35
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I have to deal with exactly these kind of moisture problems on a daily basis.
It is extremely frustrating to say the least. It looks like you have the obvious stuff covered like fartfans and a cement basement should be adequate.
Range hoods above the stove vented outside are supposedly even more important than bathfans but if you arent heating liquids much then you are OK there.

My main area of suspicion is your attic setup. Tell us more about how you sealed it. Did you lay visqueen plastic? What is your ceiling stackup? Is it drywall covering wood joists filled with fibreglass followed by a layer of cellulose? Although the styrofoam rafter chutes will enable venting of the sheathing, its also sealing off the rest of the attic so that moisture can rise up there causing a "backup" of humidity to build up into the rest of the house. If you also insulated the walls and did other things like new windows, this effect will be exacerbated.

How about the walls? Is there visqueen in there? any other insulation upgrades?
Rodeo:

I can partly answer your question on behalf of Barb.

Let me say from the outset, that her house was built by an unscrupulous builder who cut more corners than you can imagine.

However, Barb has done just about everything that is humanly possible in that attic short of putting a whole new roof on. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to add a vapour barrier, and this was just one of many things that the original builder omitted.

If I had been his inspector, he'd still be in jail.

Right on top of the upper wall plate there used to be no insulation at all in many places, this has now been fixed via a combination of blown in cellulose, sprayed in foam and plast to permit airflow below the roof sheathing. We worked out the air volume, and the plast actually supplies as much (or more) than the previous system. That is no longer her problem.

One other thing that has come to mind is that the doors in her place get opened a lot due to all her little visitors. Whether or not this has an effect on the physical moisture coming inside I don't know...but it might. It wouldn't surprise me to find out that in wintertime quite a bit of snow would be tracked inside as well.

I honestly don't think it is as much a humidity problem as it is one of there being a very cold area or two where the condensation is forming. She used to have a far worse problem prior to doing the attic fixing.

Now it seems to be confined to just a couple of small areas. I believe that she will eventually find either some air leaks, or perhaps a small section of wall which is inadequately insulated.

Perhaps some sort of infrared meter aimed at each of the wall cavities in turn will show this up. It may be that a piece or two of drywall will have to be removed (or outside sheathing) to effect a repair if this turns out to be the case.

Basically, it goes back to the original builder. Barb has showed me any number of examples of his poor workmanship....but she is fixing all these shortcomings one item at a time.
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Old 12-17-2010, 12:06 PM   #36
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OK, those new details help flesh out "the story" or better "the ghost."

So If you dont have a VB on your ceiling, then moisture will migrate its way into the attic. Air sealing and cellulose can stop most moisture migration but enough will still get through into the attic during the cold months and not have any place to go due to the attic being sealed below the rafter chutes.

IMO, for your location and setup - its better to not have a ceiling VB anyway - just a very good air barrier - which it appears you have done.

Have you thought about removing the rafter chutes and allowing the cold air to circulate throughout the attic and let the moisture dissipate that way?
You will get some xtra windwashing on the cellulose which would reduce it R value some but other things can be done about that too.

BTW, air leaks like say a draft by a window dont usually worsen moisture problems - if anything they help a bit by allowing moist air to escape to the outdoors. Other types of air leaks DO worsen moisture problems like say an air leak exposing a dirt crawlspace to the upper floors via the stack effect - check for the same in your basement.

Do you live near a lake? Do you have marshy swampy land close by? Just wondering how high up the ground water level is. Also what kind of soil? Sand? Clay? gravelly. All detail like this can be part of the puzzle.
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Old 12-17-2010, 01:03 PM   #37
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Indoor humidity


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However, Barb has done just about everything that is humanly possible in that attic short of putting a whole new roof on. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to add a vapour barrier, and this was just one of many things that the original builder omitted.

That is good to know, but perhaps it is time to suggest an alternate view: the discussions about attics and insulation and vapor barriers are all interesting and worthwhile, but it does not (at least in my mind) explain the high humidity levels in the house. From my experience, interior humidity levels during the winter in Michigan (or Ohio, in my case) should be well below the measured levels of over 60%.

Adding insulation and vapor barrier help minimize energy loss and air infiltration. However, I would expect that air inflitration would actually reduce indoor humidity in this case (winter, dry outside air). As pointed out, vapor barriers also prevent moist air from infiltrating the attic and structure, causing molds and other damage.

This is all good, but there is still the question of where this interior moisture/humidity is coming from.
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Old 12-17-2010, 03:06 PM   #38
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Indoor humidity


How is the humidity being measured?

Is the instrument anywhere near accurate?

If Barb is not adding humidity to the house I find it hard to believe that there is >30% RH, I would rather tend to believe that instrument being used to measure humidity is faulty.

At 60% humidy and 65 deg F a window surface would only have to be 51 deg F to reach dew point, given some of the windows in this house are at least 30 years old I would think that they would be sweating to beat the band at 60% RH.

Check the temp at the point where the condensation is forming, my bet is the temp there is quite low allowing the surface to form condensation.
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Old 12-17-2010, 03:11 PM   #39
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Cocobolo said,

"I see that nobody has yet mentioned that gas heat also produces water vapor. I have seen in the past where the difference between a gas heated house and either an electric or wood heated house - otherwise the same - had a substantial difference in the moisture content, or humidity level."

To this I have to say---- Water vapor created by an indirect fired gas furnace is a product of combustion, if there are products of combustion reaching the heated space then the inhabitants have far more to worry about than moisture, first thing that comes to my mind is CO!!
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Old 12-17-2010, 04:05 PM   #40
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"where this interior moisture/humidity is coming from"

if the structure is tight enough, thatll cause it - problyy not the case here

if there is no active ventilation system, that could also be enough to raise the humidity to levels like this.

Are you noticing any mildew spots on the interior walls? Look especially on the bottom corners of rooms against an exterior wall. Another good place to look is in closets that abut an exterior wall especially if there are a lot of boxes stored in it.

Unvented home designs can work but you need to have your game down 100% with moisture control. Otherwise, you need to vent it.
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Old 12-17-2010, 04:33 PM   #41
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if the structure is tight enough, thatll cause it - problyy not the case here

if there is no active ventilation system, that could also be enough to raise the humidity to levels like this.
Tight structures do not cause high humidity levels, they just keep humid air from escaping. The humidity still must be caused by something. There is something that is raising humidity levels inside the house beyond the ambient levels in the area. Is it your suggestion that normal conditions and activities are sufficient to raise humidity levels in a house to this level (over 60 percent) if not properly ventilated, either actively or passively? Does it concern you that many of the suggestions here are to further "tighten" the structure, further trapping humid air within the structure? My understanding is that most houses (at least those in locations with a real winter) need to have humidity added in the winter.

One source of humidity not mentioned here, but present in all houses: the occupants (think car windows in the winter).
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Old 12-17-2010, 04:49 PM   #42
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How is the humidity being measured?

Is the instrument anywhere near accurate?

If Barb is not adding humidity to the house I find it hard to believe that there is >30% RH, I would rather tend to believe that instrument being used to measure humidity is faulty.

At 60% humidy and 65 deg F a window surface would only have to be 51 deg F to reach dew point, given some of the windows in this house are at least 30 years old I would think that they would be sweating to beat the band at 60% RH.

Check the temp at the point where the condensation is forming, my bet is the temp there is quite low allowing the surface to form condensation.
How is the humidity being measured?
Is the instrument anywhere near accurate?

This is what I'm using to measure.

Name:  Weather station picture.jpg
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One part of it (not in the picture) measures the temp and humidity and is meant to be outside so it can send the information inside. But I have both parts in the house still. I got it a couple weeks after Thanksgiving. I think it's accurate. I have nothing to compare it to though.

Here is a picture of the oldest window. I set the instrument on the window sill and it reads 59.7 F, which is about 7 to 8 lower than the rest of the room, and 69% humidity.

Indoor humidity-humidity-15.jpg

Barb
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Old 12-17-2010, 05:08 PM   #43
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One part of it (not in the picture) measures the temp and humidity and is meant to be outside so it can send the information inside. But I have both parts in the house still. I got it a couple weeks after Thanksgiving. I think it's accurate. I have nothing to compare it to though.

Here is a picture of the oldest window. I set the instrument on the window sill and it reads 59.7 F, which is about 7 to 8 lower than the rest of the room, and 69% humidity.
I agree. I suspect that this device is sufficiently accurate for this purpose. I believe, also, that the condensation on the window speaks for itself.

One point, however, is that relative humidity will show up MUCH higher simply by cooling the air. Placing the device by the window may be showing humidity readings skewed by the window and lower temperatures. The condensation on the window may also be creating a high humidity microclimate. What are the humidity readings in the middle of the house? Are they more reasonable (say 40% or below?)

I have no idea what my humidity readings are within inches of a window. The readings I am used to seeing are taken more in the interior of the house, away from windows and other sources of heat or cool.
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Old 12-17-2010, 05:12 PM   #44
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Based on this information

Window temp @ 59.7 Deg F (Approximate Dew Point Temp)
Room Temp @ 68 Deg F
The Resulting RH in that room would be 75% (By calculation)

Causing the window to sweat like pictured the only difference being there would be water running down the wall under the window if the ambient condition was @75% RH in the house.

This kind of humidity is difficult to achieve intentionally, there would be an obvious moisture contributor to have this kind of RH at 68 degrees F.

I am familiar with the West side of MI and the ground there is mostly sand, I don't see how sub grade conditions could be contributing this kind of moisture, heck in the summer you have to water the lawn almost continuously to keep in wet enough for green grass.

That being said I still suspect that the instrument you are using is not accurate enough to provide data for this kind of assessment, these instruments will read dry buld temperature accurately, but can be off as much as 20% when it comes to RH.

Oberkc's comment regarding a micro climate is the most likely culprit at that window, as well as at the door wall which is the originating question of this post. You have a cold spot condensating what moisture is in the air.

If you really what to know what your house humidity level is at, buy 2 mercury (alchohol) thermometers, and a piece of cotton, wet the cotton and wrap in around the bulb of one thermometer. Clamp (tie wrap) the thermometers to a piece of wood about 6"L x 1/2" W x 1/2" T with bulbs protruding past the wood, one on each side of the wood, but not touching each other, drill a hole at the end opposite the themometer bulbs so you can insert a rod so that you can spin the assembly in the air for 30 sec's to 1 min, until the temperature on the termometers stop changing or put the therms if front of a fan in lieu of spinning. Read the resulting temps and post them, there are a number of folks in here that I am sure can give you the resulting RH based on the resuting wet and dry bulb temps.

See Attached
http://www.nasa.gov/centers/langley/...es-Ch11.r3.pdf
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Old 12-17-2010, 05:55 PM   #45
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One source of humidity not mentioned here, but present in all houses: the occupants (think car windows in the winter).

I thought about that too because I have a daycare in my house. So with the kids running around and other adults being in the house, I thought that could be part of the problem.

But, the front and back doors are opened frequently during the day and, this is probably too much information, but when one of the babies leaves a prize in their Pampers, I open a window for a few minutes to let some fresh air in. So there is dryer air from outside coming in off and on throughout the day.

Last night I checked the humidity at 1:30 am and again this morning at 6:30 am and the humidity level stayed the same and has been the same, within a point + or - all day. So it doesn't seem to be affected by the # of people in the house.

Barb

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