28 February 2008

Mean ol' devil


No, Mr. Bill, not the books!!!

We have been plagued by water this winter. I have no idea why. It's inexplicable.

This is the eighth winter we have been in the house and never before have we had these problems. Instead of running humidifiers, we are running two dehumidifiers. Our windows are covered by condensation that is well beyond normal and unlike any prior years. Water was dripping down the interior wall of my son's recently redone, refinished and repainted room, that now needs some serious touch-up work. The ceiling in the hallway had some water damage. Now, damnably, the interior wall on the stairwell leading to the second floor, where I store some paperbacks, has some weird mold problem, obviously the result of moisture.

Hubby and I are at a loss to figure out what is going on. There is no ice dam on the roof to cause this, nothing visible on the roof (hubby's been out there oodles of times this winter) and not even any snow to account for this. We have radiators, so the water is contained within the system. And, there really isn't an attic to have this warm, moist air condense on the cold attic ceiling and then melt in the warm weather. The only think we can think of is that late last fall we had a lot of rain before winter. Possibly, the water has pooled under the basement floor and is evaporating up into the house...except the basement isn't showing any signs of moisture. Or, we are just really becoming a family with a lot of hot air and it is condensing between the roof and the interior ceiling. I really don't know how there could be so much moisture from our respiration to cause this, especially since this is the first year we have had this problem and my parents-in-law used to live here with us and they should've caused more hot air than the kids.

And, the furnace seems to be fine, since we have THREE carbon monoxide detectors and they haven't indicated that the furnace isn't exhausting properly.

That leaves the devil as the culprit. He just doesn't want me to read any more Chesterton. Then had to drive a stake through my heart and wreck my Dickens books too. Mean ol' devil.


Ma Beck said...

Oh, no!


Terry Nelson said...

See - you just as sweet as Tammy Fay. :)

Have you had new windows insstalled, or have you had the house newly insulated? Maybe it is just too air-tight? Not enough ventilation? Maybe the humidifier on the furnace is set too high.

Or: Have you seen pods in the basement? Maybe it's the invasion of the body snatchers?

swissmiss said...

It is an incredibly low blow. All my Shakespeare are ruined, along with a smattering of others. Grrrr.

I HAD to use your Tammy Faye phrase. Our house is anything but airtight since it is 80+ years old. No new windows, but I am beginning to suspect that the people who did the roof before we moved in didn't actually cut a hole in the roof to vent the vents. I figured out where the water came from that ruined the books...it's the water that ran across the ceiling and down the walls in my son's room, the hallway and then ran along the floor between the hardwood flooring and the sheetrock where the books got moldy. It has to be an excess of warm moist air condensing on the cold inaccessible slight attic above my son's room. Why we are having this problem this year is very odd. Gremlins or the mean ol' devil...has to be. Although I didn't check every possible place for pods. I'm going to go check now. If you don't hear from me again, you'll know why.

Vincenzo said...

"That leaves the devil as the culprit. He just doesn't want me to read any more Chesterton. Then had to drive a stake through my heart and wreck my Dickens books too. Mean ol' devil."


swissmiss said...

Chesterton never looked so good...although Cathy might not have him on her list because he isn't hairy.
Jon Lovitz is perfect as the devil. Can you imagine spending eternity with him? Reason enough to avoid hell at all costs!

WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

Not the Chesterton books!
Good luck with dehumidifying that devil.
It is weird it has only happened this year, and so badly. Sure there isn't a slow leak somwhere?
We had one from the shower that caused damp and then one day a great huge chunk of my kitchen ceiling came down. It made me jump!

Adrienne said...

I'm thinking a good home inspector could get to the bottom of this. That mold is pretty dangerous.

KitBrookside said...

Definitely need to investigate and get to the source of the moisture. From years of doing Construction Defect cases in So. Cal., I can tell you, it ain't always easy to do. Definitely potential for roof leakage, but looking at the moldy spot it could also be a leaky pipe fitting OR (and sadly, the steamy windows favor this theory) you may have a cracked slab from all the extra precip and years of freeze/melt cycles, and thus you're sucking up and dispersing water throughout the house. Mold at the baseboards and under floor treatments (especially linoleum sheeting or tile) is a dead giveaway. There are simple test kits for this - they look like empty snowglobes, you stick them onto the exposed concrete surface of your basement/bottom floor, and the amount of moisture is measured over several days (catches it in the dome part).

Back to the roof, it can be leaking in one spot, but the water travels down beams and shows up yards and planes away from the leak. Maddening.

I actually went into a house in the middle of the desert where the poor homeowners moved their couch and showed us mushrooms growing at the baseboards in the living room! (On an interior wall, no less!) Because these desert communities are filled with people who want East Coast grass and lawns, the whole subdivision watered like crazy, and the soil type there (hard, claylike, not too porous) couldn't handle it. These houses literally sat on a 2-4" deep lake after a few years.

Yuck. Sorry to throw out so many unhappy scenarios, but you have to consider all sorts of theories in cases like this. Mold is all around us, but the type that shows up in water-compromised houses can be toxic, not to mention highly allergenic -- definitely gotta get rid of the source.

Good luck!!!

swissmiss said...

Thanks, Kit, for the lengthy helpful comments. Our old home is a storey and a half with the side that faces the street having a very large dormer that practically covers the entire side of the house. The backside of the house is where we are having problems. This side has a slight inaccessible attic that we think either has a leak or because of the poor insulation, we are having condensations problems just from respiration. Once the weather warms up, we are going to cut a hole through the wall and take a look. Not a fun prospect, but I'm not willing to let the problem fester. Hubby is a professional engineer, and does some work on the side, so he has some idea what to look for. And, I'm the troubleshooter in the family, so between the two of us, we should be able to see what is happening, God willing!

There are no pipes in the ceiling to account for the leaks, so it's either rain coming in or water evaporating up through the slab. I hope it's a condensation problem instead of the slab!

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Swissmiss: That looks like black mold to me too. What could have happened is you had ice back up (dams) on the dormer and the water may have backed up into the walls and saturated your insulation. It could have actually originally happened years ago but as it gets worse in the walls eventually it will push out.

My parents had this happen at their house (the house I grew up in). It wasn't pretty or cheap. Your home owners insurance may cover some of it.

Keep us all posted. I'm praying I'm wrong. The Devil is cheaper and easier to get rid of! :-)

Cathy_of_Alex said...

swissmiss: Oh, LOL regarding the hair comment.However, I do admire Teddy Roosevelt!

Marilena said...

is that mod i see on the wall there? if so, i hope you get rid of it because it can be bad for you.

Marilena said...

oops, mold not mod

Vincenzo said...

I thought that you might find this interesting.

Early and Mediaeval Irish Ecclesiastical Art

Mairin :o) said...

What a lot of pain,trouble and heartache! Maybe you can find replacement books inexpensively at half-price books or some similar place.