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Practical solutions for homeowners.
The single most common problem facing homeowners is a wet basement and the problems associated with it: weakened and cracked foundation, mold and mildew, loss of storage space, water damage, and odor. Professional fixes are expensive and often involve digging trenches and excavating.
This book explains several ways of diagnosing and fixing a wet basement and other home water problems: leaking roofs, leaky plumbing, and high humidity. The illustrated step-by-step repair and maintenance instructions will save homeowners a great deal of time and money. It covers:
A variety of practical solutions are offered for home water problems from quick and easy fixes to renovating and landscaping for water diversion and absorption. The book also includes valuable advice for prospective homeowners who want to spot potential water problems before buying a house.
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Gary Branson was senior editor of Family Handyman magazine and a former home contractor. He is the author of Popular Mechanics Home How-To and Building Decks and Fences. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
I am a former contractor, and was for ten years senior editor of Family Handyman magazine. One of my editorial duties was to answer readers' questions, 60 percent of which involved water problems: wet basements, leaking roofs or plumbing, mold and mildew, and excess moisture or humidity.
Further research reinforced my opinion that this subject required a book. For example, in The Complete Book of Home Inspection, author Norman Becker, a plant engineer, states that the fourth most common house problem is wet basements. According to Becker, 50 percent of houses with basements have basement water problems. The eighth most common problem, damaged or missing roof gutters, affects 34 percent of all houses.
The University of Minnesota Department of Public Service echoes Becker's estimate that wet basements plague 50 percent of houses in Minnesota; in my own work as a housing inspector, 75 percent of queries from clients have involved basement water problems. In a press release the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) named wet basements as the problem most often found by ASHI inspectors.
An increasingly common problem concerns home humidity and its attendant problems. To reduce air infiltration and conserve energy, many current building codes call for tight construction, including full wall and ceiling vapor retarders. This requirement helps improve the energy efficiency of the house, but the lack of air entry may also raise indoor humidity levels to unacceptable or even damaging levels. The result can be a multitude of problems, including wood rot, rust and corrosion of the furnace or other steel appliances, damage to the interior plaster or wallboard, peeling paint on both the interior and exterior of the house, ruined insulation, and mildew or mold and their attendant odors.
Other home water problems involve leaking roofs or leaking plumbing, and an increasing concern for water conservation. To answer those concerns, and to offer solutions, I've written this book.
One word of caution. Most of the advice offered in this book is aimed at moisture problems of houses in geographical areas where there are four distinct seasons. Therefore, the advice and possible solutions given may not be applicable in all areas of the nation.
For example, the coastal states from the Gulf of Mexico to the Virginias has warm temperatures and high humidity year-round. In these areas, where air conditioning may keep interior house temperatures lower than outdoor temperatures, the "cold side of the wall" will be the interior side. Any vapor barrier should be placed between the wall sheathing and exterior siding, rather than between the wallboard and the studs as is usually recommended. Also in a narrow band just above these coastal states the weather and humidity are such that no vapor barrier is recommended.
Another example is the recommendations for venting of attics or crawl spaces. In cooler climates it is necessary to vent the moisture from the crawl space to the drier air outside. But in warm, humid climates the exterior air may carry more moisture than interior or crawl space air, so ventilation may add moisture to these areas and compound any moisture problems.
Building codes and conventional wisdom thus will vary according to geographical region, and readers are cautioned always to follow local building codes, consult local inspectors, and follow the time-tested customs for building in the particular climate.
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