Tips for Controlling Humidity Levels in your Home
- By: Cheli Scott
- Date: Nov 02 2022
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Tips for controlling humidity levels in your home
Controlling your home humidity levels is important to your health as well as the longevity of your home. Humidity levels that are too high or too low can cause health problems as well as quicken the deterioration of your home and furniture.
There are some things you can do yourself to control humidity levels in your home, but depending on your situation you may need to take more costly measures to get your humidity to comfortable levels. However, with a bit of information you can lower costs and create a comfortable environment.
What’s the ideal humidity level for my home?
The ideal indoor humidity level changes depending on the season. In the winter time, humidity should be at 30-40%, while in the summer it can be closer to 55%. Winter air is naturally dryer than summer air because it is colder and can hold less water vapor. Summer air tends to be more humid and harder to manage.
While this might seem like a large range, changes in outdoor conditions or improperly functioning HVAC equipment can cause humidity levels to increase or decrease dramatically.
If the humidity in your home suddenly rises to 60% you will start to feel uncomfortable. While a sudden jump in humidity because of the weather may be temporary, chronic humidity issues can cause big problems.
The effects of low humidity levels
Depending on what area of the country you live in, you may be prone to experiencing low humidity. Low humidity can cause health and infrastructure problems with your home. Dry air can cause cracked wood floors and damage delicate fibers like artwork and furniture.
It can also be damaging to your well being. Some people find it difficult to breath in lower humidity and dryness can cause nosebleeds.
Skin and hair become desiccated in low humidity conditions, causing breakage and cracking. People with pre-existing skin conditions may experience flare-ups because it cannot retain moisture.
The effects of high humidity levels
High humidity can be just as damaging as low humidity. In a humid environment, mold, bacteria, and fungi growth is prevalent. Mold and mildew spores can cause sickness in healthy people, as well as do damage to your homes’ interior. Some illnesses are linked directly to high humidity conditions.
Dust mites also grow better in a humid environment, since they absorb moisture through the air. This worsens air quality and can exacerbate allergies.
Additionally, air feels hotter in high humidity conditions. In fact, it doesn’t just feel hotter, high humidity makes it harder for your body to cool down putting you at risk for heat stroke.
How do I measure indoor humidity levels?
The first sign to measure humidity in your home is if you are starting to feel uncomfortable. You may also notice a foul odor or condensation on your windows. These physical signs are hints that your humidity levels may be too high.
If you start to get nosebleeds or have cracked, dry skin. It is possible that your humidity level is too low and may be worth measuring.
The simplest way to measure humidity levels in your home is a hygrometer. This tool will measure the humidity and report the results back in a percentage. You can place them throughout your home to get a measure of each room. They can be purchased for as little as $10.
If after measuring you find your indoor humidity levels are too high or too low, it’s time to start taking steps to adjust them.
Ways your air conditioning effects humidity level
Your HVAC system is designed to manage your humidity level in most conditions. Moist air is carried to the evaporator coils, where it condenses and liquid forms. That fluid is then drained away.
However, if conditions change rapidly or your system is not functioning properly, excess moisture can build up. Ensuring you have your air conditioner inspected annually by a technician can help prevent problems that lead to high humidity issues in your home.
Ways to raise relative humidity
There are some simple things you can do around your home to raise your humidity levels. If you have delicate clothes can’t go in the dryer, try putting an air drying rack in whatever room you are in. The moisture buildup in the fibers will slowly evaporate as they dry, releasing moisture into the air.
Potted plants are a beautiful solution to humidity problems. They release moisture into the air continuously, raising your home’s humidity levels. If you need a quick boost of humidity do to dry skin or nasal passages, boil water on your stove or cook a meal. The boiling water creates water vapor that can provide temporary relief.
If those solutions aren’t enough, it’s time to look outside of your home for solutions. There are a number of home humidifier brands and options available. There are small single room humidifiers, that are relatively inexpensive and will work in one room of your home.
These units range from less than $100 to $300. There are also whole home solutions that work with your HVAC system to humidify your home. These come in a much wider cost range, from $200 to thousands of dollars, depending on your choices.
In most cases, lower humidity conditions are temporary, and a single room humidifier will be enough to provide comfort and humid air. It may even be problematic to purchase a whole home humidifier because if your home becomes too humid it can cause mold growth.
If you think you need a whole home humidifier it is best to schedule a consultation with a technician to review the problems you are having. You may be experiencing leaks or excessive use of air conditioning that can be resolved without a costly installation.
Ways to reduce humid air
Using your air conditioner will naturally dehumidify your home because air conditioners are designed to remove warm, moist air, so this is usually the simplest way to quickly lower the humidity in your home. Related to that, always use the exhaust fans in your home when you bathe or cook.
If your air conditioner can’t handle the load and high humidity is a chronic problem because of your location, you can invest in a home dehumidifier that works with your furnace to remove moisture from the air. These units cost upwards of $3,000, so they are quite an investment.
A basket of charcoal briquettes is a surprising, but simple way to lower humidity in your home. The charcoal will absorb moisture in the air for a few months before you should replace them.
Just like adding plants will add humidity to your home, removing indoor plants will help lower the humidity. Move them outdoors or try plastic ones instead if you are experiencing humidity problems.
Humidity levels in your home
Controlling humidity levels in your home can actually be pretty simple and low cost under most conditions. Using the tips we’ve described, you can measure and manage your humidity levels yourself with some easy steps.
If you encounter a special problem or are experiencing chronic issues, it’s best to contact an HVAC technician and have them come give you a recommendation.
Just because you call a technician, the solution may not be a costly one. In fact, they may be able to help you find ways to save money!