Home Humidity

It’s important to maintain the proper humidity levels in your home to keep a comfortable, healthy space.

So how do you determine what your home’s situation is ? Measuring the humidity throughout your entire dwelling will give you a more complete answer. Levels can be easily checked with a hygrometer, which is an inexpensive gauge that looks like a thermometer. Basements are notorious for having higher humidity levels as are bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms.

Once you have an accurate idea of just how humid your indoor surroundings are, you can take steps to get to a more ideal moisture level. The nice thing about humidifiers and dehumidifiers is that they are self-regulating. For example, a humidifier evaporates less water from the filter based on how humid the air is and prevents too much moisture from being emitted into the air.

If you’ve determined your humidity is too low or too high, you should know what problems that it can cause and how you can fix the problem.

Humidity Too Low

Low humidity or lack of moisture means the air in your house will be dry. Without proper moisture, you open yourself up to all of the pains that come with dry air such as  dry nose and throat, dry skin, and an increased risk of catching a cold. Aside from all the ways your body suffers, dryness can also impact your home. Low humidity can damage wood and drywall, causing your wood floors to shrink and can even cause pianos to go out of tune. Low humidity is more common in our climate zone due to the winter cold snaps and all our below zero days. Cold air cannot hold water vapour leaving older and less energy-efficient homes to suffer more from lower humidity issues then newer homes.

What can you do about low humidity?

Humidity levels are easily increased by using a portable humidifier. Portable Humidifiers must be kept clean and change the filters regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The most common type of evaporative humidifier uses a wicking filter that absorbs the water. A fan then blows through the air and evaporates some of the water. Make sure you purchase a humidifier that will cover the amount of square feet necessary for the area it will be used in your home and one that holds plenty of water – you don’t want to be constantly refilling it.

Humidity Too High

When things are too humid in your home, that increased moisture can condense on windows, stain ceilings and walls, affect you insulations R value, peel paint and wallpaper, and provide a nasty breeding ground for mold, rot, and insects. While many homeowners don’t realize it, newer, energy-efficient homes tend to fall victim to problems of high humidity more often. Because these homes are sealed up tight to prevent energy loss from heating and cooling these homes also seal in a lot of moisture.

What can you do about high humidity?

If the humidity is too high in your home or basement, there are ways you can decrease it.The first method is to install or ensure the exhaust fans that you have already are functioning and venting properly a quick test of this would be to place a tissue paper in front of the grill if the fan holds the tissue to the grill then you should have sufficient CFM (  A measurement of the velocity at which air flows into or out of a space ) to exhaust the air from the rooms where there are higher levels of humidity, such as your kitchen, laundry room, and bathrooms. Some new exhaust fans can be retrofit to the existing openings and also have humidity sensors that keep the fan on until the levels are acceptable ( very useful in bathrooms ) It is recommended you should always leave the fan on during and after for at least 10 mins once you have finished cleaning up.

A portable dehumidifier is probably the best thing for every one with a basement to have. Basically a dehumidifier has both hot and cold coils. A fan blows air over the cold coil that condenses the moisture in the air, which drips down into the collection area. The air is then passed over a hot coil to restore it to its original temperature. For best results and efficiency most have settings that will automatically turn on and off to control the desired humidity level in your home. But be prepared to check on it and empty it regularly. Some units offer self draining features but that feature is only convenient if its close to a floor drain. There will always be some moisture in the air around us. An indoor relative humidity of about 50 percent is usually considered a healthy level because it is comfortable for humans and because many molds and mites are unlikely to thrive in that environment. But what do you do when your moisture levels rise above that perfect medium?

A Balancing Act

The perfect home humidity isn’t always easy to pinpoint, as it relies on personal tastes outdoor temperatures and the general condition of your home . But the ideal home humidity should stay between 30% – 40% percent in the winter months, while the summer allows a higher rate from 40% – 60% percent. Ensuring your ventilation is adequate, address areas in your home that could benefit from an upgradewill help you in maintaining the proper humidity levels for you and your families maximum comfort in your home.

Additional Info :

Ministry of Natural resources :  Home efficiency and improvements