Humidity is an important aspect to consider when trying to create a comfortable home environment, and prevent future maintenance issues. Here are the top 8 tips on controlling your humidity.
When you spot the signs of high or low humidity, you should look for solutions to bring it to the recommended levels.
Humidity can cause serious health problems, like asthma, allergies, and dry skin, but also damage to your property caused by rot, mold, cracked wood, and unpleasant odors.
In this article, we’ll show you how humidity affects your house and give you some tips on managing indoor humidity levels.
We will talk about how using your ventilation, installing a humidifier/dehumidifier, fixing your ducts, drying your clothes outside, growing plants, and eliminating moisture issues can help bring your home to a comfortable humidity level.
Furniture and wooden floors dry out and crack in a low humidity environment. It can also damage trim and framing around your windows and doors. Conversely, excessive humidity at home can cause condensation on walls, tapestry peeling off, and structural damage.
Additionally, mold, wood rot, pathogen growth, and bacterial growth in the living space, attic, or crawlspace are linked to high humidity in the home.
Long periods of exposure to moisture can damage your property. It creates optimal conditions for dust mites, mold, and other pathogens. It also increases the chances of inhaling chemical pollutants.
Most experts, including the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), agree that the standard house humidity is between 40 – 60% percent for optimal comfort and health.
So, humidity levels below 60% are recommended to control mold problems.
Lower humidity levels can lead to health problems like asthma attacks, dry skin, and chapped lips. Also, allergy symptoms can worsen.
On the other hand, higher humidity levels can cause allergic reactions and other respiratory issues associated with mold exposure.
If you feel like your home is not as warm as the thermostat indicates, chances are the air is too dry.
Correspondingly, sticky air, damp smell, or condensation on your windows and walls show that the humidity is too high.
Sometimes we don’t even notice, but mundane things we do like taking showers, boiling water, washing clothes, or mopping floors generate moisture.
The good news is that we can control humidity levels in a house, regardless of its size, by first identifying the problems, pinpointing the cause, and eliminating the source of the problems.
Some steps you can take to eliminate humidity issues are quite affordable and readily accessible.
To make the time you spend home much more pleasurable, follow the tips below:
Humidity levels in a home can be measured using either a hygrometer or a thermostat. The hygrometer is a device used by professionals to measure water vapor levels in the air, both outdoors and indoors.
Both are affordable devices that you can find at any hardware store.
The right humidity levels will make your home feel warm and comfortable in the winter and cool and fresh in the summer, so make sure to invest in an indoor humidity meter.
When humidity is too low in your house, add a portable room humidifier or install a whole-house humidifier linked directly to your home’s HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system. Dehumidifiers can help you in case the humidity is too high.
They are the best solution for larger houses and preventing microbial growth. They feature drain-through technology, which means standing water doesn’t sit in the system when it is off.
Whole-house humidifiers are more expensive than portable models, but the investment is worth it due to the energy savings. They cost between $400 and $1,200, and professional installation range from $100 to $300, depending on work difficulty and your location.
On the other hand, portable units are ideal for small rooms that require an even humidity level. They are easy to install and maintain, as you only need to keep an eye on the water levels in the tank and change the air filter regularly.
In areas with high humidity, a good ventilation system is a must.
Well-circulated air will dry out faster, avoiding stagnant airflow. However, a ventilation system that doesn’t have a way to dehumidify the air may lead to discomfort instead of comfort.
Mechanical ventilation, for instance, means moving air between indoors and outdoors with fans that exhaust air from the house and supply air to the interior of the house, or both.
Whole-house ventilating dehumidifiers built into your HVAC system are a better solution for houses in humid climates. They bring outdoor air in and dehumidify it, then send fresh, dry air into the house.
There is also a conditioning ERV (energy recovery ventilator) system that’s excellent for humidity control and air quality. It pulls outdoor air in, exhausts indoor air, adjusts heating or cooling if needed, dehumidifies, and recirculates the air. It’s a well-designed system but involves a high upfront cost and quite complex equipment.
When there’s a lot of moisture in the air, look for the water source and eliminate it. Leaky pipes in bathrooms, drafty windows, a flooded basement, a leaky roof, or another structural issue can lead to excessive moisture.
Mold and mildew usually grow in humid spaces, such as bathrooms and laundry rooms, where both moisture and temperature are high. If you are looking for an effective way to combat dampness and mold, then the wall mounted dehumidifier is an excellent choice. It is very easy to install, energy efficient, and very quiet. In both tiny homes and larger houses, to control humidity, address the problem at its core.
To eliminate the cause, make sure to:
Rainwater can also cause basement flooding, and consequently, air moisture, especially when flowing toward your house.
In this case, it’s best to landscape your property to permit the water to flow away from the base of the house. If continually have a leak in the basement, we'd highly recommend sealing the foundation with a liquid rubber sealant.
Your air conditioner does help to reduce humidity in your house by removing the excess warmth and moisture from the indoor air, but this puts a strain on your AC system. So, once every fortnight, soak your AC filters in a water and vinegar mixture for about an hour, then rinse them.
Simply put, the AC pulls in air from outside and filters out the moisture. High humidity affects the cooling efficiency of the system as it makes the air warm. The air conditioner will try to maintain a comfortable thermal level inside the home, increasing the wear and tear on your system.
Your AC system should work efficiently and effectively against humidity issues as long as AC filters are clean.
Before deciding to install a new whole-house system to improve ventilation and humidity levels, you should first check all the ductwork in your house. Ensure it’s up to standard, and all ducts are properly sealed and insulated.
Dust and debris can clog your ductwork if not regularly cleaned. This leads to the air remaining in the system rather than getting pushed through.
The steps to avoid increased humidity levels due to duct issues include cleaning the coils, having a preventative maintenance plan in place, linking a dehumidifier to your system, and adjusting airflow.
Another source of home humidity is laundry. Wet clothes hung inside can increase the dampness in your property by around 30%, thus adding to your condensation and moisture problem.
Just imagine that a single load of clothes contains almost a gallon of water. When coupled with poor ventilation, your humidity can grow even worse. To avoid dampness from wet clothes, you can use a dryer or simply dry your laundry outside whenever possible.
Some plants, like Boston ferns, orchids, Peace lily, and cactus, are known to be quite effective in removing moisture from the air. They are an affordable and natural way to reduce humidity and control energy consumption.
These plants like humid soil, so they absorb fog, dewdrops, and moisture in their leaves then move it to their roots.
If you have a lot of houseplants, though, it would be a good idea to move some outside or put a layer of rock on top of the soil, as most potted plants give off moisture.
As you can see, humidity is an important aspect to consider when trying to create a comfortable home environment.
There is no universal, fail-proof solution to control humidity in your home, but a combination of the tips listed above will help make your home a pleasant place to live.
Our main recommendation is to take care of your home. You can do so by installing a good ventilation system, cleaning your AC filters regularly, and making sure mold doesn’t have a chance to accumulate.
Find answers — straight from the author — for the most common questions about this article.