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Possible cause of wet closets.

Byline: Florence R. Niles

Dear Henri: We just bought a house, built in 1956. It has many problems, stemming mostly from geriatric neglect. One problem surprised us. As we repainted every room in this one-story raised ranch, we discovered heavy dampness in two bedroom closets. In both, the rear walls show patches of moisture; one near the ceiling, the other near the floor. The wetness can be felt, but the plaster seems sound.

We suspect inadequate ventilation in the attic, which is full of rolled insulation. There is no roof ridge vent. The dampness seems to follow high-humidity weather patterns. I cleaned both of the two end-wall vents under the roof peak, but the impact was only minimal.

We're waiting to have a roofer install a ridge vent, but I wonder if this will fix the problem and why the moisture affects only the two spots in two closets. We're afraid to move anything into these areas until we're sure we have a solution. Have you seen anything like this? Do you have other suggestions that we might try?

A At which time of year did you discover the dampness in the two closets?

If in the summer, the dampness may be caused by the lack of ventilation in the closets during the high-humidity times you have identified. If in the winter, the dampness may be due to condensation on areas of the walls in which there is an insulation deficiency, particularly if the affected walls are exterior.

Solving this may require adding rigid insulation to the closets' exterior walls and covering it with new drywall.

A new ridge vent, an exhaust port, would not help unless there is an equal or greater amount of intake ventilation provided by soffit vents. I don't think this is what is causing your problem.

Q We have a skylight in our bathroom that appears to be 3-feet-by-3-feet. The back of our house faces west, and the afternoon sun coming in through the skylight is incredibly hot during sunny summer days. We've investigated blinds but we are not big fans of the look. I heard about something you can put over the outside to dim the light and the heat -- but not all the way. Are you familiar with this or do you have any other recommendations?

A Shade companies can install a film on the inside surface of the skylight glass, which blocks most of the heat from the direct sun while only slightly darkening the room. We have a similar situation and had a 3M Scotch film put on with great success.

Q Recently, my father had work done to resurface a parking area with a new coat of asphalt. The individuals who performed the work failed to provide a level surface in some critical areas where vehicles are parked. How might you suggest my father address these depressed areas, as there is a collection of water and dust that will impede future efforts to reseal the surface? The individual who was hired has refused to address this matter.

A The best way would be to have the contractor who resurfaced the parking area, or any other asphalt contractor, add some asphalt in the low spots and roll it to compact it, but that is unlikely to look very good.

It is not unusual to have low spots in asphalt or concrete paving as it is very difficult to achieve perfect drainage. It should not be that hard to clean the low spots of any dirt accumulation in the summer when the asphalt is dry just prior to applying a sealer.

I hope your father knows that asphalt should not be sealed until all the oils in the mix have evaporated, which may take two to three years. Sealing asphalt before it is thoroughly dry will keep it soft and subject to damage from vehicular traffic, especially in areas where cars are parked
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Title Annotation:Homes
Author:Niles, Florence R.
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Nov 17, 2013
Words:651
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