Humidity levels in your home have a greater impact than you think. While you might think dry air is best, it can actually do a lot of harm. A humidity imbalance in your home can cause property damage and health problems, and you may not even realize that the cause of your issues is linked to your humidity.
Most people don't have a way to automatically gauge their home's humidity level, so they just assume it's fine. But every season, the air outside changes, which means it shifts indoors, too. Summer air holds more moisture, which results in its characteristic "sticky" feeling. Winter, on the other hand, often has dry air due to colder temperatures that leave less water in the air.
Balancing your home's humidity levels throughout the year can help you preserve indoor air quality, protect your property and stay healthy.
What Should the Humidity Level be in my Home?
You should strive to keep your home's humidity between 30 and 50 percent. The ideal humidity level is 45 percent, which offers ample moisture without contributing to mold growth or making the air feel wet.
The outdoor temperature has a major impact on your home's humidity. As you adjust your own temperature indoors, it's important to monitor and regulate your humidity as well to prevent discomfort, illness and damages to your belongings and home's interior.
How to Measure and Control Your Home’s Humidity Level
The best way to control your home's humidity is to measure its relative humidity level; relative humidity measures the percentage of water vapor in the air in relation to a specific temperature. This means that your home's average temperature will impact the ideal relative humidity.
Here's a general breakdown of what your home's humidity level should be depending on the temperature outside:
50-percent humidity for temperatures over 50 degrees Fahrenheit
40-percent humidity for temperatures over 40 degrees Fahrenheit
35-percent humidity for temperatures between 10 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit
30-percent humidity for temperatures between 0 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit
20-percent humidity for temperatures between -20 and - 10 degrees Fahrenheit
15-percent humidity for temperatures or of below -20 degrees Fahrenheit
Using a gauge called a hygrometer, you can check your home's humidity level and make adjustments accordingly.
Low Humidity Rates
Low humidity causes dry skin, a sore throat and can even increase your likelihood of catching a cold or the flu. With less relative humidity, virus particles are able to travel farther in the air. The flu may even spread more rapidly in the upper respiratory tract when it's dry.
Too little humidity can also cause wood floors and furniture to crack and splinter. The good news is that you can easily add humidity to your home with a humidifier. Most humidifiers are self-regulating, which means they measure the amount of moisture in the air and automatically adjust their output.
High Humidity Risks
Humidity levels above 50 percent can spark mold growth. Many types of bacteria thrive in moist environments, so if your air feels muggy and heavy, it's likely that there's too much water vapor in the air.
You may also notice that there is condensation on your windows and walls or that wallpaper and paint is cracked and peeling. Many people with too much humidity turn on their air conditioning or a fan, but this does nothing to solve the actual problem. You wind up paying more on your energy bill without lowering any of the health risks associated with your high humidity level.
Ways to Improve Humidity Naturally
A humidifier/dehumidifier is the best way to control your home's humidity. If you want to add a bit of moisture into the air, you can dry your laundry on a clothesline in the house or place a bowl or leave the bathroom door open when you take a shower.If you notice persistent problems with your air quality and humidity levels, there may be a bigger issue with your HVAC system. If you run into any problems with your home’s plumbing, heating or cooling, and prefer to forgo the DIY route, our technicians are here to help! Visit our website to learn more about the services that we offer here at Pipe Wrench Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, Inc., or call (865) 518-7008 to speak with a representative directly.