Stack Effect: Understanding Air Quality
You may have heard about the stack effect and how it creates humidity and health problems in your home. But what is it?
The stack effect, also known as the chimney effect, is the movement of air in your home. Moreover, it all starts with the air in your crawl space or basement. As that air warms, it’s pulled up through your home and exits through the chimney, gaps in the attic or loose windows. As you can see, it’s a continuous cycle.
While the stack effect seems harmless enough, it contributes to mold, humidity and dust mite problems within your home. Additionally, anything that’s light enough to hitch a ride on the air – like mold spores and humidity – is carried through your home with the air movement.
So, if you have mold or high humidity in your crawl space or basement, you’ll also have these problems in the living areas of your home.
Stack Effect: Do You Have Health Problems?
For one thing, the stack effect could be to blame. Mold and dust mites are among the most common culprits of allergy and asthma problems. While mold is an obvious problem, there’s a hidden health risk lurking in your home. In this case, that risk is dust mites.
By all means, dust mites don’t live in your crawl space. Nevertheless, they love areas that have a humidity level over 50% and are inhabited by people. These areas include your living room couch or bed. However, there are many ways to keep dust mites at bay, including removing all of the carpet in your home. One of the most effective ways to curb the invasion is to reduce indoor relative humidity to below 50%. Not only will this help keep dust mites out of your home, but it will also minimize mold. Above all, high humidity can cause a multitude of problems for your family and home.
Stack Effect: How To Reduce Indoor Humidity
Since the stack effect carries humidity up from your crawl space, the best way to combat it is to seal or encapsulate your crawl space. In particular, this involves completely sealing your crawl space from the outside elements.
First, install a 20-mil thick vapor barrier, like CrawlSeal, over the floor and up the walls. This barrier prevents moisture from entering your crawl space. To clarify, the barrier will keep moisture from reaching your home through the floor or foundation cracks.
Next, you’ll want to cover the vents and doors with an airtight crawl space vent cover. This prevents outside moisture from entering your crawl space and contributing to the humidity problem.
Finally, condition the air with a dehumidifier. A good crawl space dehumidifier will remove humidity and mold spores, while self draining.
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~ Burt and Pauline S., Williamsburg, VA
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