Excessive humidity is not only uncomfortable; it can also cause moisture-related damage to your house.
It's been dreadfully hot this summer
all over the world, with temperatures reaching upwards of 100 degrees in some regions. Beyond the heat, humidity levels have also skyrocketed. Humidity is basically the amount of vapor water in the air; warm air holds more humidity than cold air.
Humidity isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. In fact, we need some humidity to be comfortable. But in the warmer months, when we don't often have the windows open for ventilation, humidity and moisture is more prevalent. Excessive indoor humidity is not only uncomfortable and hard to get rid of, but it can actually cause damage in the form of mold and mildew, peeling wallpaper or paint, warped hardwood floors or doors, electronic equipment damage, unwanted condensation, allergies and unpleasant thick, musty air.
Proactively reducing the humidity in your home is a lot more cost-effective than repairing the damage caused by high humidity levels.
Is the Humidity Level Normal in Your Home?
A healthy humidity level in a home is between 35%
(when it is over 20 degrees Fahrenheit outside). To determine if your home's humidity levels are abnormally high, perform a few simple, inexpensive tests.
First, check your walls and windows.
Excessive moisture in the air can cause mold growth. Photo: Sermoa, Flickr
If your windows are constantly fogging up or you notice moisture buildup on ceilings or in small rooms, this may be an indication of high humidity. Check bathrooms and closets for mold, which is an indication of extremely high humidity levels.
A wireless hygrometer. Photo: Amazon
You can also purchase a hygrometer at your local home improvement store.
There are two types of hygrometers: mechanical
; either one is just fine for household use. The hygrometer measures the relative humidity in your home. You should place it in the location that you think has the highest humidity, such as a bathroom. It may take a few hours for the hygrometer to work. Click here for more information on hygrometer usage
How to Remove Excess Humidity
It's not just the heat outside that contributes to humidity levels in thehome. Remember, humidity is just moisture in the air. Humans, pets and plants produce moisture even as we breathe. That kind of humidity is unavoidable. But here's what you can do to alleviate indoor moisture:
- Run the air conditioner.
Although this is probably the most expensive option, air conditioners help humidity on top of reducing heat.
- Move indoor plants outdoors or confine them all to one area.
Plants produce a lot of moisture that enters the air and can contribute greatly to humidity levels if you have a lot of plants. While you're at it, be sure not to over-water them.
- Take colder and shorter showers.
The steam from a hot shower contributes humidity to the air.
- Install a fan in the basement, kitchen and bathrooms.
Although this can be expensive, over time it will save you lots of hassle dealing with the repercussions of high humidity.
- Leave the bathroom vent on.
If you have a fan in the kitchen, leave those on for a while even after cooking.
- Reduce the amount of stove-top and oven cooking.
Use slow cookers instead of pots. The heat from the steam is high in humidity, so avoiding this will also help reduce your home's humidity levels.
All About Dehumidifiers
Another option for reducing indoor moisture is to invest in a dehumidifier
. Consider a dehumidifier if your home has above 50% relative humidity
. Note that the sole function of a dehumidifier is to remove moisture from the air --not to cool the air, like an air conditioner would. There are a few different types of dehumidifiers to choose from.
- Heat pump dehumidifiers:
These are the most common dehumidifiers. Inside, they have a fan and two coils (one cold, one warm). The fan is used to draw the indoor heat over the cold coil. Then the water in the air condenses onto the fan and drips into a container. The warm coil heats and releases the air.
- Chemical absorbent dehumidifiers:
In these dehumidifiers, air is drawn in and treated with a chemical substance called a dessicant. Essentially, it is a drying agent that removes the moisture and then the air is re-released into the air at a lower humidity level. They are often used in warehouses and other industrial spaces.
- Dehumidifying ventilators:
These dehumidifiers have a sensor controller and an exhaust fan. They are often not effective in hot, muggy weather because they draw air in from outside. In the summer, these can have the opposite of the desired effect.
- Homemade dehumidifiers:
You can make your very own dehumidifier using rock salt and a bucket. Follow these instructions for making your own dehumidifier