Managing your home’s Humidity

Posted by on Jan 5, 2024 in General, home improvement, Safety, Seasonal | 0 comments

The level of humidity in your home will affect your health as well as the health of your home.  If you have asthma, allergies or have had respiratory infections, humidity that has been very high or very low is a contributing factor.  These factors will also have an impact on the condition of your home. Humans are most comfortable and healthiest in an environment where the humidity is maintained at a level around 40% (Every home should have a hygrometer). When levels drop below 20% humidity, it means the air is very dry.  There is an increased level of dust and allergens in the air, our skin becomes dry and you begin to get a lot of static in the air.  Dragging your feet on the carpet is sure to give someone a shock.  This is also hard on your home.  Wood starts to dry out, hardwood floors creek and wood in expensive cabinets and furniture starts to shrink. When levels climb above 60% humidity, it means the air is very damp.  Humidity above 60% is ideal for the growth of mold which will start to grow within 48 hours.  Mold will irritate health concerns such as asthma, allergies and respiratory infections.  Mold will also deteriorate wood and over time weaken the structure of a home. In today’s modern home a lot has been done to improve insulation and energy efficiency.  High efficiency furnaces, hot water heaters and fireplaces combined with new windows and doors built to seal up a house, means very little fresh air gets in.  During the winter (and summer if you have central air conditioning), you trap the air inside the home.  In our daily activities, bathing, cooking and even breathing you introduce humidity into your home.  Consider how much humidity you introduce into your home during that big family Christmas dinner. If you notice your homes humidity above 50% (remember every home should have a hygrometer) it is time to take action!  Newer homes have a built in whole house ventilation system.  In this case turning it on will remove some of that humidity.  If you don’t have that luxury, running your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans will help remove the stale damp air.  Both of these solutions work very well in the cooler winter months.   During a damp summer the outside air can be even more humid than the inside air.  Ventilation alone may not help, consider getting a dehumidifier for the house.  A dehumidifier removes moisture from the air eliminating the possibility of mold growing in your home. When you notice the humidity is below 30% it is time to take action.  Most homes are built with a central humidifier on the furnace.  If you have one make sure it is clean and functioning properly.  This however, is not my favorite way to add humidity to a home (see my blog on humidifiers for more information).  Run portable humidifiers, in most cases one console unit is enough but smaller units can be used to humidify isolated areas.  You can also run those bathroom fans for a shorter period of time after a bath or shower.  In this case putting moisture back into the air is good for your health and your home. Winter creates another challenge with humidity.  When temperatures become very cold (in Alberta it is not uncommon to have temperatures below -30c) to much humidity in these conditions can create moisture problems which includes condensation and frost on your windows, condensation and mold on your exterior walls and frost build up in your attic.  When you hear extreme cold weather is on its way turn your humidity settings down.  20% or lower may...

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