Maintaining your home’s humidity level plays a major role in your overall comfort. Your home’s humidity level can also impact your health as well as the condition of the building and your furnishings. The ideal humidity level inside your home is around 50% as this will ensure you avoid the numerous potential issues that can result from high or low humidity. With this in mind, let’s look at the problems that can occur if your home is too dry or too humid and what you can do to better manage the humidity level inside your house.
Issues Caused by High Indoor Humidity
High indoor humidity is a problem that plagues many homes—especially during the wetter spring and summer months. The problem can be especially pronounced in newer homes as they tend to be much better sealed and more airtight, which means they don’t “breathe” like older homes do. This is actually important in terms of energy efficiency as it ensures the building has fewer issues with heat loss and heat gain. However, it can also cause problems with high indoor humidity as the moist air cannot escape and becomes trapped inside the home.
The biggest issues associated with excessive indoor humidity are mold and pests. Mold and mildew cannot grow in dry environments, but it thrives in more humid conditions. They can start growing at 55% humidity but will really begin to take off if the humidity level is above 60%. This means that if your home’s humidity level stays at or above 60% for any prolonged period of time, it is virtually guaranteed that mold and mildew will start to grow in your home’s ductwork, attic, basement or even on or inside your walls. High humidity can also allow condensation to form, in which case you may have to deal with water damage or even potential damage to your home’s underlying structure.
Cockroaches, dust mites, termites and other pests also prefer warmer, more humid environments, and they do especially well when the humidity is above 70%. This means that failing to properly manage your home’s humidity level can drastically increase your chances of a pest infestation.
High humidity frequently causes respiratory problems and other health issues due to the presence of mold spores, dust mites and other common household allergens. Humid air also makes the building feel warmer and can make it feel more difficult to breathe. This can be an especially big problem for people with severe allergies, asthma or any other breathing difficulties.
If your home is overly humid, it will also put more strain on your air conditioning system. This can cause it to run more frequently and result in more frequent repair needs, higher energy costs and a shortened lifespan.
The Effects of Low Indoor Humidity
Low indoor humidity is much more common during the winter as the hot air coming from your furnace will quickly dry out the air. Overly dry air can cause your skin to feel dry and itchy, your eyes to be red and irritated, and lead to a worsening of sinus and respiratory issues. Low indoor humidity can also damage your home’s structure and your furnishings as it can cause wood, leather and other materials to crack or warp. The issue can also cause static electricity build-up or make your home much dustier.
How to Measure the Humidity Level Inside Your Home
The first step toward managing your home’s humidity level is to measure how moist or dry the air is. You will generally be able to feel or otherwise notice if your home is overly dry or humid, but it always helps to be able to constantly monitor your home’s humidity level. This can be done using a portable hygrometer, which you can get online or at most any home improvement store.
Better still, you could upgrade to a smart thermostat as many of these units can measure both temperature and humidity. This allows you to see how humid your home is even if you’re not currently there by using the connected app. Smart thermostats are a great choice not only for the improved convenience and control they provide, but also because they can lower your energy costs by making your HVAC system run more efficiently.
Steps for Managing Your Home’s Humidity Level
If your home’s humidity level is constantly above 55% or below 45%, your best option for managing your humidity issues is with a whole-home dehumidifier or humidifier. In fact, a humidifier is really the only effective option for dealing with low humidity outside of running your furnace less often. These whole-home units can be installed with any type of central HVAC system, and they work alongside your existing equipment to add or remove more moisture from the air. They can also help to improve the air quality inside your home by eliminating issues with mold, pests, dust and other allergens.
Compared to portable humidifiers and dehumidifiers that are only effective in smaller areas or a single room, these larger units can help maintain the humidity level throughout the entire building. They also have very low maintenance requirements. In most cases, the unit will only need to be maintained and serviced once a year whenever you have your heating or AC system maintained.
Both types of units also require very little electricity to run. In fact, whole-home dehumidifiers will often help reduce your overall cooling costs by taking some of the strain off of your air conditioner so that it doesn’t have to work as hard or run as frequently.
If high indoor humidity is a frequent issue in your home, you can also take several other steps to reduce the issue. For instance, making sure to run your exhaust fans every time you’re cooking or bathing can be a major help since both of these activities produce large amounts of steam that will make the building more humid.
You may also want to avoid having large gatherings during the more humid parts of the year. People give off far more heat and humidity than you might realize, and having a large group inside your home can quickly cause the humidity level to skyrocket.
It is also best to always leave your doors and windows shut during the hotter, more humid months and keep your air conditioning on. Opening up your windows allows humid air to seep into the home and soak into your building materials and furnishings. When this happens, it can become virtually impossible for your air conditioning system to manage the humidity level on its own as it simply won’t be able to absorb all of the moisture from the air.
Your Local Indoor Humidity Experts
At Sano Heating & Air Conditioning in Anaheim, our team of highly trained HVAC technicians has what it takes to ensure high or low indoor humidity is something you’ll no longer need to worry about. We install, service and repair whole-home humidifiers and dehumidifiers and can help you find the best unit for your home. Our technicians can also inspect, maintain and repair your heating and cooling systems to make sure that they are working properly and not contributing to any issue with overly dry or humid air. If you have any questions or want to know more about your options for managing your home’s humidity level, give us a call today.