Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) & Energy Conservation

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  #1  
Old 03-11-03, 06:31 AM
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Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) & Energy Conservation

Moisture is the number one pollutant in homes today and is the number one cause for structual failure. One might think that roof and basement leaks are the cause for this. The answer to that is no.

Much of the posts on this forum has to do with home improvement and/or improving the environments we live in. In doing so people inadvertently create problems in their homes which they specifically wanted to avoid. The following are websites that provide information concerning moisture control. I hope you find them useful.

INDOOR AIR QUALITY (IAQ) a site by the EPA.
http://www.epa.gov/iaq/molds/index.html

Dept. of Energy site, a brief on Vapor Diffuser Retarders (VDR) and Air Barriers.
http://www.eere.energy.gov/consumeri...riefs/bd4.html

Dept. of Energy site for BUILDING ENVELOPE PERFORMANCE, includes facts sheets on INSULATION, BUILDER's FOUNDATION HANDBOOK and RADIANT BARRIERs
http://www.ornl.gov/roofs%2bwalls/facts/index.html
 
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  #2  
Old 03-11-03, 08:06 AM
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AIR TRANSPORTED MOISTURE

Equilibrium Relative Humidity (ErH%) is widely misunderstood. Nature always seeks balance or to equalize things. Air that has a lower humidity than other air or objects, will extract the humidity from the other air or objects until the humidity level are equal in the air or objects. This is exactly how moisture is removed from our homes.

The average home today has a little bit more than one air exchange per hour during the winter months. Much older homes that did not have the improvements we do to our homes today had more than 3 air exchangers per hour. They were referred to as drafty homes because of this. However, the more air exchange the healthier the home, which is good for the occupants.

There is a direct relationship between our energy bills and the air exchange in our homes. The primary source of air exchange in the winter is heating. Whenever you heat air, it expands and when it cools, it contracts. Since the house cannot get bigger or smaller, when the expansion occurs because the heat comes on, it pushes air out of the house. When this heated air cools, it contracts and pulls in fresh air into the house from the outside. The higher your energy bills are the more air exchange in this house. The lower, the less air exchange in this house. Since people want to lower their energy bills and improve their comfort by reducing the drafts in the home, the result is the humidity that would normally be removed because of the greater air exchange remains in the house.

This is the primary reason why Energy Conservationist, like myself, are blamed for the moisture problems that presently exist in so many homes today. With this in mind, I must point out that many people in this industry from manufacturers, conservationists, building performance experts, contractors and more do not fully comprehend the ramifications of energy conservation towards moisture problems in the home.

You as a consumer must educate yourself concerning moisture control when doing improvements in your home. Do not expect that the window salesman or general contractor to be well versed in moisture related problems with the product or service they are providing, especially when it comes to conserving energy. To them this moisture problem is unrelated to their product and/or service. Their defense with these types of problems is that other applications in the home caused the moisture problem. It now becomes an argument based on which came first, the chicken or the egg? In most cases a combination of applications resulted in the moisture problem. Each application by itself would not have caused a moisture problem but when the 2 were brought together in your home, the moisture problem arose.

The future of energy conservation depends on how well consumers are educated. If we are to reduce our energy bills and increase our comfort which reduces the air exchange in the home, we must also control the moisture that we produce in our homes. This should go hand in hand, but it doesn't. Probably because it appears to be a very complicated subject and people don't want to be bothered with subjects like that.

You as a consumer have to make a choice. You can either avoid problems in the future or pay for it later. The government websites in the former post is a good place to start. If there is anything on those website that you find difficult to understand, I am more than willing and able to explain it to you.
 

Last edited by resercon; 03-15-03 at 06:11 AM.
  #3  
Old 03-24-03, 02:26 PM
aaronr
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It would seem that my other post in this forum about caulking may do something to prevent "air exchange" in our house.

In Texas I have experienced that the spring and early fall are confusing times for our thermostat. It would seem that it's not cold enough for heat nor warm enough for a/c. So our house remains closed with no air circulation. We experience moisture problems...doors that swell, general muggy feeling...and we're not sure how to take care of them. We were even told by our gas company that we needed to air out our house when we called them complaining of headaches. The guy said it's pretty common at this time of year for newer houses to run out of oxygen. I guess you're saying that weatherproofing your house can actually contribute to this.

What can I do to reduce the humidity in our house when the weather isn't conducive to air conditioning? What are long term effects of elevated humidity inside houses?

Sometimes even when the air conditioner is running the house feels humid. Should I have it serviced?
 
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Old 03-24-03, 09:23 PM
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Sensible Heat Factor

Oversizing air conditioning is usually the cause for humidity in homes where there is a lot of heat and humidity. The reason for this is it takes considerably longer to remove moisture in air than it does to drop the temperature of air. Properly sizing air conditioning for the home makes the unit runs longer and as a result it removes a lot of the humidity in the home. Oversizing causes the temperature in the home to drop fast but does not remove a lot of the humidity. This humidity has a tendancy to build up inside the home. As this does this, when it gets to where you don't need air conditioning, the conditions you are experiencing occur. So it is not so much as not enough air exchange that is causing the discomfort, it is probably that your air conditioner(s) are oversized for the home. Bigger is not better when it comes to air conditioning.
 
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Old 03-25-03, 05:45 AM
aaronr
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thanks

Thanks for the reply. That's good info...didn't know it. I definitely thought the bigger the a/c unit the better.
 
  #6  
Old 03-25-03, 10:47 AM
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To aleviate the problem.

One way to remove the humidity is to have the fan on constantly even when the compressor goes off. What this does is move the inside air over the evaporator coil and if the coil is still cool, it will remove the humidity. You could also try raising the thermostat in an attempt to make the unit work longer but still advise you keep the fan going all the time.
 
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