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Do It Yourself: Condensation could be caused by bad venting

Q. We have double-pane windows throughout our house, lots of insulation, and an efficient gas central heater. Even so, we are getting condensation on the inside of the windows. I have to wipe the moisture off the sills and glass every morning. What’s happening?

A. Condensation on windows or other cold surfaces in a tight house like yours is usually a tipoff that the relative humidity in the house is much too high. What’s more, since you have a gas central heater, it could also be a sign that the heater might not be properly vented, possibly because of a partly blocked chimney.

The first thing you should do is have the heater vent checked. If you have other gas appliances, such as a water heater or clothes dryer, have those vents checked also. Improper venting could mean that carbon-monoxide gas, a dangerous combustion product, is seeping into your house.

The second thing you should do is check the relative humidity in the house with a hygrometer, or moisture meter, which you can buy at most home centers, often in combination with a thermometer. Relative humidity higher than 45 percent or 50 percent is considered too high, and can be a cause of mold, mildew and other problems as well as condensation.

If the relative humidity turns out to be too high, the next step is to bring it down to a healthful level. This can often be done by improving the ventilation in the house, usually in places where moisture production is high, such as bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms. If your central heater or air conditioner has a humidifier, turn it off. Even electric clothes dryers should be vented to the outside to expel moisture and lint. If these measures don’t get the humidity down and clear up your condensation, you might have to use a dehumidifier in high-humidity rooms, at least for a while.

Q. I have a couple of newer tools with lithium-ion batteries, but have misplaced the manuals. I know these batteries are expensive. How do I take care of them to make them last and get the best results? I’ve only used nickel-cadmium batteries in the past.

A. It’s a sad fact that many tool buyers either don’t read the accompanying manuals or lose or misplace them. I misplaced a couple myself until I bought a small plastic file and some file folders and began keeping tool manuals where I can find them quickly and easily.

You should be able to get replacement manuals by contacting the manufacturers. However, I can give you some tips from my own experience.

First, be very careful not to drop a battery; a fall can ruin it. You’ll find that lithium batteries sustain their power much more steadily than nickel-cads – instead of gradually losing power, the tool might suddenly simply stop working. If possible, try to gauge the run time of the battery so you can recharge it before it loses power completely; this can help extend the life.

When working on a project, I don’t let battery-powered tools lay around in hot sunlight for extended periods; put them in the shade until you need them. When I will not need a battery-powered tool for more than a few days, I remove the battery and store it in a relatively cool place, usually my basement.

I have seen recommendations to store them in a refrigerator at 40 degrees or more, but I think the moisture in a refrigerator would damage them. I prefer room-temperature storage, and my lithium batteries have done well with that. Most new batteries don’t take long to charge, usually an hour or less. Your charger should have indicators showing when a full charge is reached. Lithium batteries should be stored partly charged.

Questions and comments should be emailed to Gene Austin at Send regular mail for Gene Austin to 1730 Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422.