Five ways to keep your house happy and dry this winter

Five ways to keep your house happy and dry this winter

(Happy New Year from Orca Inspections!)

I hope everyone survived the big freeze. That was an unprecedented cold snap, for which I was mercifully out of town. But I arrived home to find my well-houseA broken pipe in the well house of Seattle home inspector Dylan Chalk piping a little more leaky than I left it. Luckily, I had turned the power off to my well when I went away so this was an easy re-piping job, and damage to my well was narrowly averted. I guess I need to start following some of my own advice and better winterize my well house! 

These are crazy times! A worldwide pandemic, heat domes, atmospheric rivers, and record cold snaps…. All in one year! These curveballs are pushing our buildings harder than they have ever been pushed before.

With the onset of COVID, people have started spending more time at home. This can exacerbate wear and tear on house systems and create higher indoor relative humidity. Think about it; the more people are home the more they are breathing, showering, cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry. All of these activities add moisture to the building. And in the winter, we are likely to have doors and windows closed – that moisture may have nowhere to go.A chart showing how moisture contributes to mold growth in the home

In order to avoid the nasty effects of too much indoor humidity (like mold and more), it’s a good idea to run a quick checklist this winter to make sure your home is dry(ish) during our wet season.

Tell-tale signs such as sweating windows, sweating toilet tanks, orA steamed up window indicating too much interior moisture in a home. just general indoor humidity, indicate it is time to strike proactively to prevent potential mold and indoor air quality problems. The following list unpacks a series of moisture control considerations for monitoring and correcting moisture problems.


Five Tips for Winter Time Moisture Control
  1. Purchase an inexpensive indoor relative humidity gauge and see what your
    A moisture gauge used by Orca Home Inspections
    This is a fancy indoor humidity gauge we use at Orca.
     humidity level is. The goal for the winter months in Western Washington is to stay below 55% RH.
  2. If indoor RH is high, start with bath fans. Run them in the high moisture areas as needed to bring down indoor humidity levels. See if RH can be controlled simply by running fans in high moisture areas more often.
  3. Check around the perimeter of your building. Make sure gutters and downspouts are draining water away from the foundation. It is surprising how frequently you need to clean gutters and even downspouts at the elbows, where fir needs and other debris collect.A downspout growing ferns; a sure sign the pipe it clogged.
  4. Check your basement and crawl space, especially after heavy rains, and make sure those areas seem dry. Mild dampness in an older basement is pretty normal after heavy rains and a small amount of water in the crawl space is tolerable, but you want to keep an eye on these things seasonally. Excessive moisture in weather space can quickly lead to indoor relative humidity problems. 
  5. Check your attic for seasonal condensation when it’s cold outside. This is a tricky issue that can be hard to track down. The most common time to findMold on the interior of a roof. From Orca Home Inspections an active moisture control problem in your attic is first thing in the morning when you see frost on the grass outside. Minor moisture on cold days can be tolerated, but extended periods of moisture will lead to mold blooms on the roof sheathing. 

Great News – The Pod is Expanding! 

Dan Rodgers

Photo of Dan Rodgers, Orca Home Inspections newest inspectorI’m proud to introduce my first employee! Dan spent nearly two years training with a very reputable home inspector in the Seattle market. After that internship experience, he and I spent most of last year together; he has done hundreds of ride alongs as well as inspections on his own. He brings to Orca Inspections phenomenal communication skills – skills that he learned from years of running some of the more well-known restaurants in Seattle, such as Matts’s In The Market. He is a valuable asset to the pod and going to help carry on the Orca standard.

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