attic moisture

I am the new homeowner of a 1927 Craftsman bungalow and am very concerned after finding the unfinished attic is extremely moist to the point that the wood is damp to the touch and has what is now crystallized material on some. How long until major damage is caused. I know I need to address some things like the lack of roof vent ridges and the old drafty windows, but don't know if much can be done until spring ( I live in Northern NY). Any ideas? I'm afraid I have ice dams forming.
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"Maria" wrote

Maria, if you mean 1927 as the year it was built, I'd relax. It;s been doing that for 80 years now.

You will get ice dams. They fall off in spring. Pretty normal.
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If your attic floor has insulation, move some of it out of the way above the bathroom and kitchen so you can see the ceiling. If the moisture is coming from those rooms - a likely source - then it would condense first in the insulation and you might have problems starting in those locations.
There could be a lot of contributing factors such as type and location of insulation, roof construction, location of the damp areas on the underside of the roof, etc. If you're really concerned the best thing to do is get a pair of knowledgeable eyeballs to size up the situation.
R
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And you would know this..........how?
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Ron wrote:

2008 -1927 ------ 81
Math is hard.
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HeyBub wrote:

Yeah, but you don't know if it has been damp all 80 years. This could be recently failed flashing around a chimney or vent stack. Sometimes all it takes is one wind gust or blown branch, to make an old lead boot let go.
We can't see OP's house from here. They need a roof/attic inspection, not long-distance speculation.
-- aem sends...
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Thank you!
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Ah, I didn't ask how old the house was.
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And btw, it is now 2009.
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Ron wrote:

Only for those who have caught up on their bookkeeping.
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Ron wrote:

Oh. Sorry.
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How long has it been like this, a moisture meter can show areas of roof leaks. An unheated attic needs good insulation on the floor and venting for fresh air. If nothing is changed in the last maybe 10 years that you had done maybe a roof leak, If moisture was real bad it would have rotted away 70 years ago.
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On Sat, 10 Jan 2009 17:14:55 -0800 (PST), Maria

Whatever you can do to increase ventilation will help. Of course, if there is a roof leak ventilation won't help much. Perhaps a small oscillating fan on a timer or a 40w light bulb will work, but I wouldn't wait until the spring rains to inspect for roof damage. Ideally the humidity should be below 50%. Anytime wood gets wet, rot, mold, possibly termites follow and weaken the structure. The rate of decomposition varies with temperature, humidity, type of wood, etc. Consider a ridge vent and more soffit vents.
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Maria wrote:

How long since new roofing? Any vents (bathroom, kitchen or dryer) that exhaust into the attic? Soffit vents?
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I'm guessing that a house that old that has 'crystallized material' on the wood was probably built with heartwood pine. If so, it is mostly impervious to damage from moisture.
Red
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wrote:

So youre saying that either she is mistaking the crystal stuff for moisture, or she has moisture but they are two unrelated things.
I've seen amber-colored stuff on the outside of old wood, pine, I guess. It comes from inside the wood.
Saw on the news that they took down the Rockefeller Center Xmas tree and in place, the sawed into lumber. The trunk at least.

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I'm saying her crystallized material is quite possibly thoroughly dried pine pitch. If condensation formed on it, it would feel damp but would not penetrate nor harm the wood.
Red
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wrote:

That seems strong. Even if the stuff is seeping out of the wood and protecting part of it, would it likely be a complete cover that protected all of it?

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