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Heating & Air Conditioning

Home comfort: When humidity wreaks havoc

Some homeowners struggle with summertime humidity but find their homes excessively dry in the wintertime. Colder air tends to retain less water vapour than warm summer temperatures. That’s why we often feel drier, with skin and eye conditions becoming aggravated by a lack of moisture in the air. 

However, other homeowners may notice signs of too much humidity in their homes in winter. We’re increasingly building more air-tight homes, so excess humidity isn’t able to escape. This can lead to a variety of problems, both for human health as well as for the structural integrity and safety of your home environment. 

It’s just as important to keep an eye on humidity levels in the winter as it is in the summer. Find out if you have too much moisture in your home, and follow our tips to help control humidity in the winter months.

How do I know if my home is too humid?

If you live in an area that experiences rainy, wet winters, you’re more likely to have problems with humidity than in drier climates. 

Ideally, your home’s humidity levels should be between 30-40%. If it’s drier, you may notice that your skin and eyes feel drier, or have wood items in your home begin to dry out and crack.

However, humidity levels of 40-50% or more increase the likelihood of moisture-related problems. Watch for signs like condensation on your windows or water stains on your walls and ceilings. If your home feels muggy and sticky or smells musty, it’s likely because your humidity level is too high. Another indication can be an increase in allergic symptoms caused by elevated levels of mold.

Why is it a problem?

High indoor humidity allows mold spores to grow rapidly. Mold and other indoor air pollutants can also spread to floors and walls, potentially affecting the structure of your home. If condensation leaks below windows and into walls, mold can grow undetected.

These elevated levels of mold and dust mites are also a problem for human health. Asthma, allergies, and respiratory conditions can all be triggered as a result of increased irritants due to high humidity. If anyone in your home is experiencing chronic congestion, throat irritation, or other respiratory issues, humidity may be a contributing factor.

Moist environments also foster the growth of bacteria, which can be damaging to your HVAC system, causing the need for costly repairs.

What can I do about it?

There are a number of proactive steps you can take, depending on the severity of your humidity issues. It’s always a good idea to check with an expert like our skilled Whyte Ridge technicians  to identify concerns and ensure your HVAC system is operating efficiently for optimal humidity control.

Both cooking and showers generate a lot of moisture. Make sure that you run your exhaust fans in both the kitchen and bathroom regularly. This will help to circulate air efficiently. Avoid hot showers that will increase humidity more significantly. It’s best to opt for fewer, shorter showers at a lower temperature if you’re noticing signs of moisture in your bathroom. Leave exhaust fans running even after you’ve left the room to provide optimal air circulation.

Your clothes dryer also produces moisture. Run it less often if you have humidity issues.

You may want to purchase a dehumidifier. A portable unit will enable you to target trouble spots by moving it around to areas like the basement or bathrooms. A whole-home option will allow you to control humidity levels more effectively throughout your home, avoiding systemic issues with water damage.

An inexpensive option to control problematic areas is the use of rock salts. These salts work like a sponge to soak up excess humidity. Place rock salts in a container with drainage, then put this into a second bucket that will catch the water. Make sure you empty it regularly.

Some indoor plants absorb moisture and help keep air circulating. Orchids, cactus, and English ivies are all good choices for this purpose.

If your problem is more serious or these solutions don’t work to reduce signs of water and humidity damage in your home, you may need to explore more serious options. Insulating pipes, upgrading windows, and changing flooring can all help to reduce indoor humidity levels.

What other tools are available?

If you’re unsure about whether or not humidity is causing you problems, it can help to get an accurate reading of your relative humidity (RH). This is a measure of the amount of water vapour in the air. For example, an RH of 40% indicates that your air is holding 40% as much water as it can before the water is forced to condense. This is the upper range we recommend for your home.

A hygrometer is an inexpensive tool that can help you determine your home’s humidity level. Alternately, most smart thermostats make it easy to monitor humidity. They’re controlled by your device and allow you to circulate fresh air, employ humidifying and dehumidifying control variables, and accurately monitor your temperature with sensors.

Stay warm and dry this winter

Winter is a time for cozying up inside where you can enjoy being warm and dry. If it’s too dry, you may notice irritating eye and skin symptoms and an increase in static electricity. But a home that’s too humid also poses a lot of risks to your health and home integrity.

Don’t let excess moisture be a concern this winter. Ask your technician how we can help you employ techniques to better control your indoor humidity so that your health and your home don’t suffer.