Have you ever considered making management of the indoor humidity of your home a priority? It’s crucial that you do. Humidity levels can affect multiple aspects of your home. Read on to find out more about why indoor humidity levels matter.
Understanding Relative Humidity
For you to understand how humidity affects your home, it’s essential for you to know the basics of humidity. As humidity refers to the amount of moisture in the air. And the word “relative” modifies the term to indicate the maximum amount of moisture that air can hold. That amount depends on the air’s temperature. For example, cold air contains less water than warm air. So if the relative humidity in a home is 100 percent, this implies the air is holding the maximum amount of water that it can. And such a home will feel sticky and, consequently, uncomfortable.
To live comfortably, it’s important to maintain a balanced humidity in your home. The recommended humidity level is anywhere between 35 and 45 percent. Anything over 50 percent is considered too high whereas anything below 30 percent is too dry.
What Happens If Your Home Has High Relative Humidity?
If there’s a lot of moisture in your home, the excess moisture will be trapped in the basement, corners, and several other closed areas. Mold will grow in the areas where the moisture gathers. Mold spores can affect your respiratory system and worsen asthma. Dust mites also thrive in damp conditions. Their feces can cause asthma and allergy symptoms. Some viruses and bacteria also multiply faster in such environments.
Excess moisture can also make wood cup or warp because it can’t handle the moisture. This can destroy both natural and engineered hardwood flooring. The moisture can also get underneath your flooring and inside walls, causing rot. Because of the destruction, your only option may be getting new flooring, wall studs, or drywall. Excessive condensation can also occur on windows and cause water to drip down. This can make your window frames rot.
Watch out for these telltale signs of too much moisture in your indoor air:
- Cupping wood floors
- Condensation on doors and windows
- Mold growth
- Stains on ceilings and walls
- Blistering paint
- Peeling wallpaper
- Wood rot
- Musty odor
What Happens If Relative Humidity Is Low?
When the relative humidity in your home is too low, wood lacks enough moisture to maintain its form. The ring or grain in wood has different reactions to humidity. Therefore, low humidity can cause cracking as well as checking, which refers to splitting along the wood grain. This destroys hardwood flooring, musical instruments, and furniture. Sometimes, lengthy repairs can fix flooring and furniture damaged by dry conditions. But most of the time, they usually require complete replacement.
Low humidity levels can cause several ailments such as bloody noses, dry sinuses, chapped lips, and dry and itchy skin. They can also aggravate bronchitis and asthma.
How Do You Solve Humidity Problems?
Here are some steps you can take to monitor and control the relative humidity in your home:
- Get a hygrometer: A hygrometer uses digital or mechanical means to check the humidity levels in a particular area of your home. You can get them from local hardware stores.
- Upgrade to a smart thermostat: Although it’s costlier than conventional models, smart thermostats come with many useful features that make them worth their high price, such as the ability to detect your home’s relative humidity. When installed with compatible HVAC equipment, some can go as far as adjusting your home comfort system accordingly.
- Seal air leaks: Sealing gaps, cracks, and holes that may be allowing outdoor air into your home and conditioned air to get out will help you regulate the humidity levels in your home.
- Add insulation: Making sure your home is adequately insulated helps reduce humidity levels and save energy.
- Ventilate adequately: Having good ventilation is one of the best ways to ensure your humidity levels are kept in check.
- Install a humidifier or dehumidifier: These devices help you create the perfect humidity balance throughout your home. They’re relatively easy to install and operate. During winter when you’re running heating systems, air can dry out and cause discomfort. You can add humidity to the air by installing portable humidifiers in the parts of your home you frequently use or get a whole-house system. In the summer when you’re not heating your home, there may be too much water vapor in the air. Running a dehumidifier can help you eliminate the excess moisture.
- Set your thermostat: Controlling the thermostat setting is vital to keeping indoor humidity at comfortable levels. In the winter, be careful not to overheat your home.
For many people, humidity is never a big concern. But as you’ve come to learn, it affects almost all aspects of your home, from home comfort to your family’s health to the health of your property. If you haven’t been paying attention to it, it’s important you get started.