Ask Ted!

If you have any questions you want answered, feel free to drop me a note. If you’ve got a question, chances are, there are lots of others out there with the same question. So ask away!

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822 thoughts on “Ask Ted!

  1. http://i0.poll.fm/js/rating/rating.jsI had the attic of our 100 year old house insulated a bit better (3 stories). Then I felt my basement was warmer and had mold. The improvement in draft was from 800 to 650 or so. I was told to put a better dehumidifier and air purifier. Which I just ordered. Is it possible that the insulation created this problem or just that we had more humidity in the past few weeks (hurricanes etc…). We are in the North East however.

    • It could be a combination of factors. If they tightened up the house when insulating, that would flush less of the humidity out. However, it would also let less humidity in! So usually tighter is better.
      Where do you think the moisture is coming from? Do you have a damp basement or crawlspace under the house?

  2. https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsHi, I’m going insane in trying to figure out what to do with my insulation…especially since the people giving me the info will be doing it and stand to make a profit. I have a 1500sqft cape in NY built in 1939. The humidity averages 45-50% and sometimes reaches 60% in the summer (I got a dehumidifier and am getting mini split systems throughout the house to take care of that). With the dehumidifier running at full I get it down to 41-43%. I ripped out all the insulation on the rafters in the attic that were in the kneewall portion because they were old and falling apart. It seemed like a wool type insulation in paper bags. The insulation on the ceiling joists in the attic remain. The house has lath walls (except the portions I punched holes in for new wiring), the outside aluminum siding on 3 walls and stone on the front. Two gable vents directly across from each other on the sides of the house, soffit and ridge vents. The few places I punched holes in the wall I see the insulation type that are bags with the wool type material in them.

    1/ My house is FREEZING! Seems like the insulation is useless. I was going to get dense packed blown in cellulose done, until I read what you said about, “That air gap allows water to drain and dry out. But yet we see people putting cellulose and other non-water resistant insulation into that gap. That’s like sticking a sponge in there. It will soak up the water and likely end up in a moldy, rotten mess and useless insulation.” So how do I insulate the walls then, or with what? Foam might not be done properly, and can pull away from the walls over time, I have to rip open the walls for the pink stuff, and the wool isn’t as good. Do I go forward with the dense packed cellulose (note, when they blow in the cellulose they won’t be removing what’s on the ceiling joists and they don’t know about what’s in the walls, but I assume it will remain.)? They plan on insulating the usable area…meaning the knee wall area and rafters will not be insulated.

    2/ My bedroom is above the garage. I was going to put the Corning faced fiberglass in the joists above the garage, and then put the moisture resistant drywall to finish. Do I have the face of the fiberglass face the ceiling since the heat is in my bedroom, or the garage area since that’s where moisture would rise from…same question for the drywall? You may ask why not put a moisture barrier instead? Reason being, I want access and don’t want to be bothered with replacing or patching the barrier if I go up there.

    Thanks for any help.

    • Hey Larry, sounds frustrating!
      There’s a lot in your note, so I’ll just comment in the order you wrote.
      Humidity levels sound very typical for this area of the country. Nothing too extreme that makes me worry.
      Often when you have a cold house that appears reasonably well insulated, there are significant air leaks, leading to a lot of cold air infiltration as well as difficulty maintaining humidity. Running dehumidifiers costs a lot of money, so tightening up the house will help reduce your electric bill too.
      The general rule on vapor barriers/insulation facing, is that the barrier is to face the primary warm/humid area. In our climate, this is the inside of the house. Even though there’s humidity outdoors, the outside gets much colder in winter, which means surfaces exposed to those low temperatures are where condensation will be likely to form. The moisture barrier helps reduce moisture from the house from getting out to the cold area. So in your garage ceiling/bedroom floor, the facing should be up against the floor. On the surrounding bedroom walls, it would go against the backside of the interior walls.

      In your construction, as long as the walls are normally framed, with aluminum siding, exterior sheathing, a wall cavity, then your interior wall, blowing the cavity with dense packed cellulose would be a good way to go. However, they would need to pull out the insulation that’s in there. It’s really hard/virtually impossible, to do a good cellulose job with complete fill when there’s already insulation in there. They do this by removing some of the exterior siding then cutting back a strip of the sheathing. They can then pull out the existing insulation, replace the sheathing, and blow cellulose in there.
      On the side with stone, you’ll have more difficulty. Obviously you don’t want to damage the stone so for those areas, they’d have to go from the interior. It might not be worth the effort.
      If I were you, I’d have an energy auditor come in once the weather gets colder. You want to run the tests when it’s below 40 for best results. Have them do a blower door test and thermal imaging scan. This is the only proper way to determine what’s really causing your home’s coldness. Avoid anyone who wants to come in and give you a visual only inspection. A legitimate energy audit by an independent auditor will run $300-$500 and is worth every penny. They will be able to analyze your home, show you exactly where the problem areas are, and suggest specific methods for improvement that avoid causing problems.
      Since you already have insulation in your walls, they’ll probably tell you that it’s not worth removing it. The thermal scans and blower door test will let you focus your efforts on just those areas that are causing problems. So start there.

  3. https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsTed — your posts have been wonderful and during the last 3 months of building my pole building home in northern Kentucky, I have been able to do a number of things right (all the ducwork inside the conditioned part of the house, etc). I also have soffitt vents installed. I have one last problem: My ceiling joists are not all 22.5 inches apart. If I am going to use batting insulation in the ceiling, I’m going to have to do a lot of pushing and pulling to get where I can staple this stuff in. Enter a new idea: What if I stapled 6 mil plastic (or Tyvek) to the ceiling joists and just blew in all the insulation I needed before installing sheetrock in the ceiling? Am I forgetting something fundamental or would this work? Many thanks- Dan

    • Thanks! I always appreciate feedback. Glad I can be of assistance.
      What you describe with blown in insulation is exactly what many installers do.
      The possible catch is that, in order to avoid possible moisture problems, it is best to have a gap between the top of the insulation and the bottom of the roof. It’s not absolutely necessary but there’s much debate on this. One school of thought is that moisture that gets into the roof cavity can condense on the roof deck and soak the insulation. The wet insulation would hold the moisture against the wood and rot the roof. The other school is that the cellulose insulation itself has extremely high moisture carrying capacity which helps dissipate any moisture throughout the insulation. This protects the roof deck unless there is an extreme amount of moisture entering the ceiling cavity.
      For what it’s worth, I had my home insulated with dense packed cellulose, including the cathedral ceilings, and I’m not concerned about this issue causing problems.
      If you want to play it safe, you would install 1.5″-2″ spacers directly under the roof deck. You would then install board foam to the nailers, creating an air space between the roof deck and the insulation. Then you’d blow the insulation into the cavity between the board foam and the Tyvek. I generally recommend this approach to people these days because building codes vary and some insist on having that air gap so that the air will flow from soffit to ridge, unimpeded, which is certainly the safe way to go.
      Cheers,
      Ted

      • Ted – you are the best. The construction fellows asked me where I am getting my education and I turned them on to your blog. Your comment, l 1.5″-2″ spacers directly under the roof deck. You would then install board foam to the nailers, creating an air space between the roof deck and the insulation. Yep — got that. I purchased 24 inch on center 4 foot plastic soffit baffles so I will be able to blow in what I’m calculating to be about R40 and still be well away from the cold wall. Thanks so much! Dan and Sue in Kentucky

  4. I own a 2 story home built in 1936 in Connecticut. The “attic” runs the length of the house with vents on each end. There is not one iota of insulation in that space. It is only accessible through and 18″ square opening in one of the bedroom closets. I made the opening to work on some electrical wiring. This exposed the lack of insulation that was further confirmed when I modified the bathroom ventilation fan to properly exhaust out through the roof. It was venting into the 3′ high attic space!!

    The triangular “attic” space is approx 3′ high, 6′ wide by 35′ long and the upstairs hallway sits right below with bedrooms off of that hallway. The bedrooms have sloped ceilings that follow the roof line. So we basically ARE sleeping in the attic the way I see it.

    My question(s) is in regards to insulating that space to help keep the house cooler in summer and warmer in winter. I had 3 contractors come take a look. ALL suggest dense pack cellulose in each bay of the sloped ceiling.

    ?: Is there any concern for moisture in these bays that cellulose will “suck up” and get moldy. What if a roof leak occurs (I know that is whole other problem, but can cellulose “mask” a roof leak in way?) Would blown-in in pink fiber be better here?

    Also the recommended treatment of the triangular attic space differs from each vendor:
    1. to spray foam inside the sloped ceiling and sealing off the gable vents entirely. They would do nothing with the attic floor.
    2. blow cellulose on the attic floor keeping gable vents as is
    3. blow pink fiberglass on the attic floor leaving gable vents as-is

    ?: Do any of these sound better than the other and why?

    Lastly 2 of the 3 recommended spray foaming the rim joint/sill along the basement foundation. Makes sense to me but I read here on “how NOT to insulate your home” that maybe that impedes some need for breath-ability of the house.

    ?: Would our furnace, water heater, AC, etc be “choked” by doing this?

    I appreciate you feedback
    Thank you

  5. http://i0.poll.fm/js/rating/rating.jsHello Ted:
    I recently did a new addition on my home in PA. We did a vaulted ceiling off the back of the house and a month after the addition finished we found out the hard way that my son’s window had a crack in it and water was allowed to run done the old wall into the new construction. We immediately did new siding, windows, and drainage off the back of the house. No new leaking has occured. My problem lies in the moisture that is up there and have been researching ridge vents for the new construction. The moisture that is stuck up there has manifested as stained dry wall on the ceiling in the new construction area. While considering ridge venting on the new construction I have sealed the room off when everyone is gone for the day running a dehumidifier within the sealed area. I wanted your opinion on my dehumidifying idea or if you would say “Quit over thinking and just do the ridge venting”. Thanks in advance for any insight or ideas you might have for this bummed out dude in PA.

    • That’s a bummer.
      If you think a substantial amount of water got into the ceiling cavity, you should consider cutting open a rectangle of the ceiling drywall where it has discolored anyway. This would let you remove any water that might remain and air out the cavity so as to ensure that it’s dry an there aren’t any other issues. Dehumidifying the room without opening up the cavity will do little to dry out what’s hidden in the cavity.
      Removing drywall is less traumatic than it seems and can save you a lot of agony since it will allow direct inspection of the affected area. I’ve had pipe leaks in several areas of my ceiling and had to do this and it was well worth the trouble!

      Tip: locate the rafters that the drywall is attached to and do your best to cut the drywall carefully so that you can attach a new piece back to the rafters. Normally, they will be 16″ apart, but some construction has it 24″ apart. Cut out a nice section, maybe 2′ long and the rafter width and it will be easier to replace.

  6. https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsHello Ted, I live in Florida and have 14 ft vaulted ceilings. My house was built in 1959 and I had the roof replace 5 yrs ago. The existing material under the roofing felt is a board similar to porous concrete with string like fibers. The roofer installed a plywood sheet over top of the existing material so the nails would hold as the previous roof could just be pulled up by hand. The interior beams are painted with sheet rock between them. The beams have been showing mold for a year which was not a problem before the re-roof (21years). The mold is easily removed with vinegar but reoccurs in about 8 months when it becomes hot outside. Where we live is a very humid environment. I am not sure but don’t believe there is any insulation under the sheet rock. In your opinion should the rock be removed and foam sprayed in and re-install the sheet rock? Do you think that would stop the beam molding issue?

    Thank you,

    • Very humid environments like that are extremely challenging from a mold/moisture perspective. What happens is that the beams are heavy and change temperature much slower than the air. So if the beam is cooler, say after night, then the morning air comes into the house, laden with moisture, you will get dew formation on the beams.
      As for why this would happen after the re-roof, I have to wonder if anything else changed at the same time because I don’t see why the mold issue would crop up after that type of change. I have one idea but it’s a wild guess – the added roofing material could be increasing the R-value of the roof just enough to allow the beam to be cold enough for the moisture formation.

      The main thing I’d suggest before doing anything dramatic to the house is to do what you can to keep the humidity down inside the house. This means use the air conditioner regularly because it is a giant dehumidifier. You also want to avoid opening windows in the morning or other times when there is lots of moisture in the air. The combination of keeping the house closed up and using the air conditioner should greatly reduce any mold issues since it will control the moisture in your air.

  7. Ted,
    I have a room addition on a cinder block crawlspace. The main house is on a full poured basement. I have pea stone on the floor of the crawlspace, plastic sheeting over that, caulked and taped, 2″ rigid foam on the floor and walls, all spray foamed, including the rim joists. The only connection from the crawlspace to the basement is a hole where the heating duct runs from the main trunk in the basement into the crawlspace to the register for that room. Should I drill holes in the rim joist/joist bays where the basement and crawlspace connect so the air between the two spaces can co-mingle, exchange, etc.? I’m concerned with the space being a virtual dead-air space since I have it pretty close to air tight, other than the small gap where the duct work passes through the rim. I have also considered running a 4″ duct from the main trunk into the crawlspace to heat/cool the space to hopefully keep the floor warm/cool, but this would potentially pressurize the space with no where for the air to go. Any advice on how to best handle the air flow for this space?

    Best Regards,
    Andy

    • I like your second idea of running a small duct and supplying conditioned air in there. Put it on the far side and don’t worry about a return. There’s enough leakage through the opening where the duct enters. You shouldn’t need a lot of air to flush it out.
      Just keep an eye on the space during wet season to ensure that the humidity doesn’t build up. It’s probably fine given what you said but it’s always good to double check.

  8. Hey Ted.

    I’ve got a problem. It’s been very rainy recently, I have a septic tank that was repaired (3 years ago) it seems to be working fine. Then I remodeled my kitchen, a deeper sink, had to change the outflow under the sink. I have a disgusting smell coming from my 1/2 basement. There were also some water issues during a recent deluge. Water came into the basement (minimal). I’ve seen no leaks in the sewage pipes to septic tank. I cleaned/spray minimal mold off the basement walls, ran fans to dry the cinderblock up, even ran a charcoal exhaust filter. But it still stinks. Gassy like and putrified like. After all this work to remodel the kitchen (which I love) I feel like I can’t stand the smell. House is 30 years old, I have under foundation drains into a sump pump that works fine and have a dehumidifer running in the basement, filter cleaned.

    Thanks for your forthcoming advice.

    • It does sound like sewer gas. I battled for a long time with sewer gases/smells from bad seams on my ejector pump in the basement under my kitchen.
      When you say you had to change the outflow under the sink, what exactly do you mean? And the smell is coming from your 1/2 basement. Is that under the kitchen?

      It’s quite possible that when they redid the drain from the kitchen that they cracked one of the pipes which would allow sewer gases to escape. These cracks can be nearly impossible to see when they’re on parts of the pipes hidden from view. I had an old cast-iron main drain line that cracked and stunk up my house for a couple years! We searched and searched and I finally found it after sticking a camera up and taking pictures where I couldn’t inspect.

      The key is to follow your nose and isolate where the smell is coming from. You won’t necessarily be able to find the exact location as the smell can move around based on air currents and other conditions. But you should be able to narrow it down to a small-ish area, maybe 10×10′. Then a very careful check of any drain pipes in that vicinity. Use your eyes as well as hands – the fingers running down hidden pipe surfaces can be extremely sensitive for finding cracks.

      Hope you can narrow it down. Definitely check all drain pipes, they’re your most likely culprits.

  9. https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsHey Ted,
    Currently I am redoing my back addition. I have added a multi position air handler in the attic above living space, and have cathedral ceilings. The duct work is also in ceiling. I read your article about insulation between the rafters of the ceiling. Currently there are no vents on the soffits.
    1.do I need to add vents?
    2.is it a must to use foam board to cover insulation? Whomever built this addition made that almost impossible. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thx, Jp


  10. https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsHello Ted I just read a article of the different colors of fiberglass and what it means when it is black. Well we live in military base housing and for yrs I have said we have mold. Well we move in two days and when our movers left we noticed black mold in the laundry room! Inside our hvac system the installation is black and I called yrs ago worrying bc I’d never seen black installation. They said it was normal.

    • Mold in the laundry room usually means that the dryer isn’t venting out properly. If all that humid air isn’t going outside, it will build up in the laundry and lead to mold growth. This can be caused by clogged or damaged ducts from the dryer.
      Black insulation in ducts is quite common. Large amounts of air flow through the ducts and any dust that isn’t filtered out gets caught in the duct walls.


  11. https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsTed — I have not read but about 20 of your posts and have not specifically found the exact answer I was looking for, but I am darn sure you are the right person to ask. I’m in northern Kentucky and my property was on a steep grade. I had an 18 x 52 pole building build and my floor is 2×8 connected up on 6×6 drove treated beams. I was able to get a good deal on 3 inch (recovered product) polystyrene foam and installed it between the joists. I will get under the floor and fill any cracks with expanding foam stuff (what a mess). What I do not know is if 1) I need to make that critter proof and how best to do that, and 2) do I need to install some other form of vapor barrier. The construction guy said, ‘a vapor barrier that goes on the ground;’ however, I’m unsure about that. Do I need to put OSB or some hardboard on the bottom of the joists? If you are up for consulting work, I’d love to be able to pay you for some advice. I’m building this place myself, so I’m trying to do as much work myself as I can and yet I don’t want to make terrible errors. Thanks so much. Dan

    • Hi Daniel, I thought I’d replied to your question but can’t locate the answer. So here goes!
      1) Critter protection – polystyrene is very soft and everything can chew through that. Protecting it could be challenging though. If you put wood under it, that will be exposed to ground moisture and would likely rot out. You could put sheet metal under the joists, which would also act as an absolute vapor barrier (besides the seams).
      If you did you poly, I’d attache it directly to the joists. Poly on the ground would stop much of the moisture from coming up, but then humid air that got into the gap between the ground and the joists would still have the ability to cause problems. Plus, any water from rain that got under there would just sit on the poly, evaporate and rise up into your home.
      Another option is to use foil-faced poly-iso board foam attached to the bottom of the joists. It wouldn’t have to be thick, 1/2″ would do. It would add a little insulation and protect the joists from moisture, as well as sealing out moisture very well, especially if you tape the seams with foil tape. It wouldn’t be as durable as hard metal, but could be much less expensive, easier to install, and provide a bit of a barrier from critters (though still they could chew through if determined.)

      • Ted– You are helping my wife and I move forward with confidence. Your teaching is so very appreciated. Dan and Sue

  12. Ted,
    I don’t know if you have any knowledge in this field, but based on the nature of your site and questions you have answered for me before, you may! I’m heavily redoing my house, interior and exterior. Upon doing so, I’m really tightening it up: rim joist insulation, spray foam, air sealing attic, foam board on basement walls, new windows properly flashed & sealed, etc. It will be extremely tighter than when built in the early 70’s. Anyway, in my basement I currently have a furnace, gas water heater, and gas dryer. I have a vent on the exterior that brings make up air into the cold air return of the furnace, but I do not have any vents for combustion air. This wasn’t a big deal when the house was leaky, but since I’m tightening it up I’m concerned with combustion air, back drafting, carbon monoxide, negative pressure, etc. So I’m looking for confirmation that I do probably need combustion air, and I have read about needing two vents, one high (within 12″ of ceiling) and low (within 12″ of floor), but I don’t know if this still applies. Also, I don’t know of what proximity these vents need to be to the appliances. Obviously my furnace and water heater are near each other, but not the dryer. Should I run separate vents near each?

    As always, much thanks in advance!
    Andy

    • That’s a great question. In fact, energy auditor and contractors in my region a required to measure zones of the house for depressurization under a variety of conditions to ensure you don’t get backdrafting or starve these combustion devices of needed air.
      Given what you’re doing, it would be useful to get a “combustion zone analysis” to ensure things continue to run safely and efficiently.
      There are also some clever way of bringing in combustion air without essentially leaving the window open and negating all that air sealing 🙂

      • Good to know! Maybe I will drop a combustion air vent right next to the dryer. That could actually make things easier on me.
        Thanks again!


  13. https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsIn a December 7, 2016, answer on the Ultimate Attic Insulation post, you discuss Roxul with air space behind and faced Polyiso under the Roxul for attic roof insulation. You mentioned you were going to attack this in a full article shortly. Have you posted this article? Could you provide a link? Regards


  14. https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsHi, I enjoy reading your articles. We live in a 1968 house in Calgary. We intend to remove the vinyl sidings and sheathing/plywood to remove the existing cellulose insulation, hire a company to do spray foam insulation and put the sheathing /plywood and vinyl siding back on. Is this the right thing to do? My concern is that it would affect the structure of the house when we remove the sheathing/plywood. Another option we have is to remove the vinyl sidings, install rigid foam insulation, and then put the vinyl sidings back on. We are not sure if this is a good idea to leave the old insulation material in place and because we heard rigid board could cause condensation problems. Thanks in advance for your help.

    • Thank you. I hope you read at bedtime so the articles can help you sleep 🙂
      You have a good point about structural considerations since the sheathing does provide rigidity to the walls, though I couldn’t comment authoritatively since I’m not a structural engineer. To be safe, you may wish to consult one.
      That said, you could do the job piecemeal, removing some sheathing, spray foaming, replace sheathing and moving to the next bays. Logistics could make this impractical, but it is one option.
      If you use high density spray foam, that has been shown to substantially impressive wall strength since it glues together the structure.
      On your last point, the construction with foam outside is feasible in some climates but I wouldn’t want to go that method in a cold one. As you mentioned, it could create a condensation risk. Foaming in the wall cabinets would be much safer.


  15. https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsHi Ted,
    I have a persistent smell in my basement which is worse since having new vinyl siding installed on the house.
    – The main floor of the house is 50% vapor barrier and pink insulation, and 50% original 100 year old hollow lath and plaster walls.
    – The basement has no drywall or insulation currently

    The contractor wrapped the house in 1″ white polystyrene sheets sealed with red tape.
    Experiments :
    – Part of the basement footing showed higher humidity – a sheet of vapor barrier between 2 studs and a humidity meter inside shows 70% humidity constantly.
    – Another basement footing with normal humidity with the same test shows 66% humidity constantly.
    – On the main floor a hole in the lath and plaster shows 62% humidity inside.

    My suspicion is that this is a double vapor barrier problem, but I am getting conflicting advice from specialists and unsure how to proceed.

    • First question – what type of smell? Are you getting the musty smell, which almost always is indicative of moisture/mold? Or something else?
      My first thought is that the house is tighter now, so there’s less airflow up through the house, which would flush out some of the odors that you’re now smelling. Especially since the smell appears in the basement. Moisture problems in the house main floors wouldn’t be liable to cause odors in the basement.
      OTOH, I can imagine some unintended consequences of the insulation job. For example, if they added insulation to the walls that were previously open, that would impede airflow through those wall cavities. I’ve seen lots of plaster walls that are framed in such a way that the air flows from the basement all the way up to the attic. This would flush out moisture and odors from the basement. It also wastes a lot of energy, so people often want to insulate those wall cavities and end up with undesired effects.
      From your description, the fiberglass in the walls was already there and the siding contractor just added insulation to the exterior walls, behind the vinyl siding? That would definitely make the walls much tighter, so if there was natural airflow through the wall cavities and out, that would be greatly diminished. In most cases, this is beneficial – tighter house, more energy efficient. But, like noted above, the undesired consequence is that the basement may be much less ventilated, leading to moisture buildup and odors.
      The humidity levels your noting aren’t unusual for this type of year, depending on your local weather. Around here, in PA, we’ve had a fair amount of rain, so the ground is wet. That would migrate through the walls and into the cool basement, making the relative humidity high. Because of this, it’s necessary to dehumidify or water-proof the basement walls. The other thing to do is ensure that your gutters are draining properly so that you don’t get water dumped on the ground near the foundation of the house. The roof can gather thousands of gallons of water during a rainstorm. If that isn’t guided by downspouts away from the foundation, that water can saturate the dirt and cause big moisture problems inside the house.

      • Hi Ted,
        Thank-you for responding to my question.
        To me it smells like paint – the smell got worse after the siding, which I initially thought was due to the air-tightness. The pink insulation on the main floor was installed 6 years before the vinyl siding. The contractor installed new builders paper over the sheathing, followed by the 1″ polystyrene, followed by the vinyl siding. I brought him back but he said that the moisture in the footing is not caused by his work because it is all taped up properly and he followed the building codes.

        From my point of view the new codes calling for exterior insulation don’t allow for any moisture leaks at all otherwise the moisture just stays in there indefinitely.
        Previous mold inspections have not shown anything, I am waiting on results of an ERMI test to hopefully give some insight.

      • Well, I agree that I can’t see how the siding work would affect the foundation moisture, other than side-effects mentioned before. However, your contractor’s reasoning is completely wrong! I think he thinks that the only way moisture could build-up is if water got in through the siding/foam/house wrap.
        I agree with your comment about the building code. They really don’t comprehend the true nature of moisture issues.
        I’d suggest watching how the water drains next time you have a rain. Make sure the gutters are working and water isn’t pooling around the foundation.
        You might also want to actively ventilate the basement (if you have basement windows) during spells when it’s nice and dry outside. Barring that, a good dehumidifier will help. But if there’s water around the outside, you’ll be waging a losing battle because humidity will keep coming through the walls.
        You don’t have a high water table there, do you? That’s really hard to battle without seriously waterproofing the basement.

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