Maxwell’s Tips – Is this Ceiling Crack Serious, Reno Blogging for Money and Why Are My New Windows Wetter than Old Ones?

Ceiling Crack Serious?

Q: Is the crack in the ceiling of the condo I’m planning to buy a serious problem? I’ve signed papers but I’ve still got time to cancel the deal if an inspection uncovers something seriously wrong. The crack is more than 20 feet long.

A: Judging by your description alone I can’t tell whether the crack is significant or not. Is this condo in a high-rise concrete building, or a low-rise wood frame structure? Send me a photo and I’ll be able to help you better. If time is running out on your ability to get out of the deal, then it’s best to shut it down now. There’s a tendency for us to feel like the current deal is the only deal, but that’s simply not true. Finding another possible choice does involve work, but it’s better to spend the time looking for a good place than spending money fixing up a place with serious structural problems. When it comes to ceiling cracks, it could be a problem or nothing at all.

Reno Blogging for Money

Q: How can I write by own renovation blog and get companies to sponsor me? I’d interview the different trades and write about doing some of the work myself. Will this fly?

A: Your idea is a good one and I’d encourage you to try it. The most difficult part will be convincing suppliers to help financially, either with discounts or cash contributions. The internet has made it so much easier for people to get online, so your job is to provide the kind of quality and content that rises above the crowd. These sorts of things do happen, but it takes salesmanship and a track record of traffic that you can show to sponsors. Traffic is everything online. If you can get people following you, then sponsorship is certainly possible. In Canada I’ve found that a focused website or blog with 5K to 10K of visitors per month gets the attention of corporate sponsors. Video is key in all this, too. It’s the premiere way to communicate with people these days.

New Windows Wetter than Old

Q: We’ve got new windows installed and they’re sweating water much worse than before. Even the caulking and window sills now have mold on them. I’m told the windows should be left open a little to boost ventilation, but what’s the point in paying for new windows if you leave them open? Are these windows installed improperly?

window_condensationA: Strange as it sounds, the advice you’re getting is good. Or at least it’s one of several strategies that will clear your windows of condensation. The reason your new windows are sweatier is because they seal better. Trouble is, improved sealing action also keeps more humidity in your house, boosting the condensation you’re plagued with.

Indoor humidity levels naturally rise over time because of cooking, showering and breathing. The fact that condensation wasn’t a problem with your old windows is the same reason condensation was never a problem with older homes. Plenty of natural air leakage exhausted humidity leak outdoors automatically. And while it’s true that opening your windows and running exhaust fans a lot can lower indoor humidity levels, you’re right in saying this defeats the whole purpose of new windows in the first place. That’s why heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) were invented. These ventilation appliances are roughly twice the size of a laundry basket. They exhaust stale, humid indoor air outside, exchanging it for fresh, drier outdoor air while still retaining most of the heat energy. HRVs typically cost $2000 to $2500 installed, but used properly it will keep your windows clear while also retaining indoor heat. Once your house is dry, kill the mold with a registered, bleach-free product, then clean the old mold stains. The best mold stain remover I know of uses oxygen-based chemistry.