|Moisture & Your Humboldt County Home
|This article I wrote was published in the Times-Standard 'Real Estate in
Review 2009' special section in May 2009.
Moisture and your Humboldt County Home
by Ralph Brady
Moisture is your home's worst enemy, and here in Humboldt
county we have plenty of it. Mold, wood destroying fungus and
termites are three of the most common home damaging
organisms which thrive in a moist environment. Algae, moss and
other organisms can cause unsightly staining and slippery
surfaces. Improper drainage can be a nuisance and may cause
water related damage.
The most important step to protecting your home is keeping the water out of the living space by having a
properly installed and maintained roof. The roof should have well maintained gutters and downspouts
installed that discharge the water well away from the foundation. Windows, doors and even siding can let
water into your home if they are not properly installed and maintained. When we get those 3 to 4 day long
south wind driven rain storms it can be tough to keep the water out. If you notice any water coming in
around windows or doors, the source of the water entry should be investigated and dealt with. Water
trapped inside walls can cause some serious damage.
It is also important to ensure that there is good drainage around the perimeter of the house. A good rule
of thumb is to have about 1/2” - 1” per foot of slope away from the house for at least the first 6 feet. The
slope can be reduced to 1/8” - 1/4” per foot with concrete. There should also be at least 2” (preferably 6+”)
of clearance between grade level and the wood siding and framing. With some of the local terrain, this
can be difficult. Use of a swale or a french drain may be necessary in some cases. I prefer swales,
because they are permanent with very little maintenance required. A swale is basically a ditch with a very
Most Humboldt county homes have crawlspaces below the house. Problems can arise if the crawlspace
soil is too damp. If standing water is noted in the crawlspace for more than a couple of days after a heavy
rain, then it needs to be addressed. Perimeter drainage is the first line of defense. If that doesn't do it, a
sump pump may need to be installed. Even damp soil can cause elevated moisture levels and
subsequent damage/issues. Good cross ventilation is very important to prevent condensation and
elevated humidity levels. If the ventilation is minimal and the soil is moist, it may be best to cover the soil
with a plastic vapor/moisture barrier.
If wood dries out quickly after the rain stops, it can last a long time. Mold, mildew, moss and other
organisms can only grow with extended periods of moisture. Shade, debris, vegetation and poor
ventilation all contribute to excessive moisture. Try to keep vegetation trimmed back, and debris cleaned
up to allow sunshine and ventilation to dry things out as soon as possible after the rain stops.
Having your home inspected can help to find these types of issues and many more. I have been a home
inspector in Humboldt county for about 7 years and have inspected over 1200 homes. I'd like to say I've
seen it all, but there seems to always be something new to experience. I created a website mainly as a
source of information to include in my home inspection reports. For more information on drainage around
your home, controlling moisture in your home and much more useful and interesting information go to http:
//bradyinspects.com/add_info.html. I add articles and links on a regular basis. You can also feel free to
contact me with any other questions you may have.