Home Improvement--General/Improving Insulation


QUESTION: Hello Anthony,
I recently bought my first home. It is a 1 floor, 1048 sqft, 1953 ranch. I chose the house based on it appearing to be an efficient easy to maintain home.
The house is in Massachusetts, to give you an idea of the climate.
After moving in, I found that it has high humidity and does not seem good at holding heat. I find that the dehumidifier turns on frequently and collects a lot of water when set at 50. The windows build up water and sometimes ice on the metal horizontal part that you pull up on to open the window. The walls are very cold to the touch and it feels drafty.
We painted the woodwork around a window, before noticing the drafts, and the paint just sloughed off and puddled, never drying.
I do know that the duct work (forced air) has some holes and seams that have been duct taped over.
Could you give me any recommendations?
Thanks for your time and expertise.

ANSWER: Hello!

Sorry to hear you're having this issue.   

There are several ways things that can be checked.  First, in 1953, it was not uncommon for walls to be uninsulated or poorly insulated.  If walls are uninsulated, the cold outdoor air makes the walls cool to the touch.  The warm air inside then condenses on the walls (which is why you might be seeing water which turns to frost).

Another huge reason that humidity is in our air is if we have unvented space heaters.  If you have unvented space heaters, like natural gas or oil space heaters, they can put a lot of moisture into the air.

Check your bathroom fans -- if the bathrooms do not have exhaust fans, all the moisture from your shower ends up in the air throughout your home.

Check your dryer vent -- if the dryer vent is not exhausted to the outside of the home, it can dump a very large amount of moisture into the air.

So, the short version:

Check your walls -- are they insulated?
Check your heaters -- are you using UNVENTED space heaters that dump moisture into the air?
Check your bathrooms -- are there exhaust fans?  Are they working?  Do you use them regularly after showering?
Check your dryer -- is it vented to the exterior?

Best of luck -- hope one of these helps

[an error occurred while processing this directive]---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you ,
I can only peek into the wall in one area, I do see fiberglass. The bathroom is unvented, we open the window until the steam and condensation is gone.
The walks on the north side are freezing. The windows are vinyl replaced in the 70s. Could drafts come from the windows or the wooden sills around them?
Do you have recommendations to fix this? New windows, blown in insulation, etc?

Great - you have insulation in the walls which would have been a very expensive fix if you had to install it yourself.

Windows are often sited as a huge energy saver, but in actuality, they don't pay for themselves over the long run.  It is just such a huge upfront expense.  

With no ventilation in the bathroom - even opening a window - doesn't really exhaust the moisture the way that is most beneficial.  

One thing you haven't told me yet - what kind of heating system do you have?

If you would like, you can email me directly at anthony@bsiofnc.com which allows you to send pictures and allows me to send resource links, etc.

Look forward to hearing from you,

Home Improvement--General

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Anthony Procaccini


Residential Construction questions - specifically diagnosing an issue or concern in the home. My main area of expertise is Home Energy Efficiency and reducing your utility bills or increasing the comfort of your home.


I was a home builder for over 5 years. I have been doing energy auditing and analysis for the past 4 years.

Building Performance Institute, United States Green Building Council - NC Chapter

My blog - bsiofnc.blogspot.com

I am a Building Performance Institute Certified Building Analyst, Certified Manufactured Home Specialist, Certified Envelope Professional, and a Certified Quality Control Inspector

©2017 About.com. All rights reserved.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]