Friday, April 11, 2014

Mold and Your Basement

There is a serious disaster in the making that is going to impact the majority of homes with finished and/or insulated basements. If you are considering finishing your basement, moving into a basement apartment, or are buying a home with a finished basement, you need to sit up and take notice.

You may be putting your health at risk.

"Fiberglass batt insulation, 2X4 wood or steel stud framing, and a poly vapour barrier is commonly used practice for insulating basements throughout Canada.  This however is a recipe for disaster."  This isn't just hype.

The U.S. Department of Energy has published a short article and describes recommended basement insulation systems to use, and they mention moisture problems are "compounded when an impermeable vapor barrier such as plastic is used on the interior because it will trap moisture in the wall."

This is unfortunate because most, if not all, new home construction in Canada since the mid 1980s use the fiberglass batt and framed wall or blanket insulation system featuring a well sealed 6 mil polyethylene vapour barrier installed on the warm side of the wall assembly.

The result of this construction methodology is moisture wicking through your foundation is trapped inside the insulated framed wall assembly. Due to the low drying potential of the wall assembly, mold starts to grow.

If you think your home insurance policy is going to come to the rescue for you, home insurance policies "typically do not cover water damage caused by 'maintenance' problems. These include slower, ongoing problems like continuous water seepage or repeat leaks, ongoing humidity problems, problems related to your landscaping or drainage on the property, or condensation" says Karla Kant in her article "Home Insurance Guidelines: Mold Facts and Coverage".

The "The American Society of Home Inspectors estimates that 60% of U.S. homes have wet basements. Even well built and sealed basements that would not have mold under normal circumstances can develop mold growth from high humidity" says Robert G. Miller, Forensic Construction Expert.  You can read more here about Basement Air Quality.

"Mold occurrence in new homes has become so endemic that builder's liability insurance coverage limits the insurance carrier's liability to a few thousand dollars, if it covers mold issues at all" says Mold Occurrence in New Construction.

The conclusion I make from having read the information provided in these articles is managing moisture and how it impacts the building is serious, because if ignored, the consequences to you, your family's health, and the health of your home will be disastrous.
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