The humidity level in your home is very important for your comfort and for your house. Get yourself a hygrometer to measure humidity, and then you can determine your needs and choose from an extensive array of tools for controlling household humidity.
Low humidity – effects on your health and home
If you’ve got an irritated throat and nose, and your skin is permanently dry and lips chapped, it can mean there isn’t enough humidity in your home.
Your house doesn’t react well to low humidity, either — the dust builds up, the furniture’s joints will get loose and the floors and stairs become squeaky.
High humidity – effects on your health and home
On the contrary, high humidity makes you feel sticky and it gives you allergic reactions, like sneezing and chronic coughing.
Also, your house might develop mold on the walls and the ceiling and you might struggle with insect infestations.
Checking your household humidity
An instrument called hygrometer is of great help because it measures the amount of moisture in the air. There is more than one type of hygrometer — you can opt for a mechanical one or an electronic one. The best place to leave your hygrometer is a living area away from the kitchen or the bathroom as there is a lot of humidity there.
For your comfort and for your household’s sake, the relative humidity levels should be between 30% and 50%. During the summer, 55% is acceptable. However, if the humidity level is anywhere under 30% or over 60%, you will feel uncomfortable and it could be damaging to your home.
How to deal with low humidity
Dry air in your house has a chilling effect because it increases the cooling power of perspiration. Once you manage to get your indoor humidity at the right level, you can decrease the thermostat temperature by a few degrees and feel just as warm and comfortable. Your heating system’s efficiency will increase by 1% for every degree you dial down and that means considerable savings during the winter.
You can start increasing your household humidity by adding a house humidifier to your heating system.
This type of humidifier comes with a built-in humidistat which automatically prompts the unit to produce the perfect amount of moisture. Some of these systems include an outdoor sensor that takes into account the air temperature. Your best bet in terms of efficiency are steam versions.
You can also weatherproof your doors and windows and by doing this you’ll remove air leaks that allow humid air to escape. You can check how well you’ve insulated your home using an insulation multimeter. Or, if you don’t want to do any of that, you can just purchase a portable humidifier.
How to deal with too much humidity
During the summer, you can keep your house humidity under control using the air conditioning unit. Air conditioning helps to remove excess water as it cools the air inside your home.
This doesn’t really work for homes that have basements or are located in coastal regions and in this case you may encounter high humidity problems year round.
There are a few solutions to this problem: you can buy a portable dehumidifier in case you struggle with isolated dampness in your household. Or you could purchase a vent fan for your bathroom.
A more efficient solution is to install a dehumidifier in your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. It is equipped with automatic sensors which will detect the humidity level in the air and will adjust it accordingly.
As a pre-emptive measure, you should make sure excess moisture from the outside isn’t allowed to get inside your home. Pay attention to the gutters and drain pipes and repair any leaks you find. Use drain pipes extenders to keep water away from the foundation and make sure all your window wells are covered so they don’t accumulate water from the rain.
What about new constructions?
New houses built in high humidity areas are especially prone to excess interior humidity because they’re built tightly and air leaks are rare. Not having air leaks is efficient, but it can contribute to an increase in humidity level inside the house.
To prevent that, you can add a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) to your HVAC system — it removes moisture without losing any heat.