Summer and fall in the south bring hot weather, pop-up storms, and humid air. When the air systems in our home are all working fine, stepping inside is a well-deserved respite from the heat and humidity. But when something goes wrong, even our house can feel like a steamy sauna.
If the air in your home is feeling sticky and humid, it could mean there are issues with your air conditioner, or something more.
ABOUT HOME HUMIDITY
The first thing to know about humidity in your home is that it’s natural. Our regular everyday activities produce humidity — from doing laundry to washing dishes to showering or even breathing. Your basement or crawl space can also bring in humid air.
While you can’t avoid producing moisture, too much can affect the health of your home and your family. Ideally, the humidity levels in your home should be between 40-55%. If you’re noticing things feel too sticky during the summer, or there is excess condensation during the winter, your inside air might have too much moisture.
Pro tip: Get a hygrometer/humidity monitor (or two) to measure relative humidity levels in your home. You can pick them up inexpensively on Amazon or a local hardware store.
THE EFFECTS OF EXCESS HUMIDITY
Too much humidity in your home can have effects both on your family and your possessions:
Bacterial growth: Bacteria thrives in warm, damp environments. Keep an eye on places you know will have more air moisture than others (like the bathroom or basement) to catch it early. Bacteria also thrives in dark places with little air circulation. Check closets, draperies, and rugs that haven’t been moved in a while.
Bugs and mites: Dust mites are one of the most common causes of asthma in the United States. They prefer warm, humid air. In fact, they can barely survive indoors in temperatures below 71 degrees Fahrenheit and in relative humidity below 45%.
Technology: Electronics are susceptible to damage from moisture, which can corrode wires and circuitry. Dramatic humidity changes can cause them to short circuit.
Health effects: Bacterial spores, allergens, and dust mites can cause allergy flare-ups for you and your family. If you notice that your eyes are watering excessively, you’re sneezing, or have a runny nose, it could be a sign of excess humidity in the air.
WAYS TO PREVENT EXCESS HUMIDITY
If you do notice your home has high levels of humidity, there are a few things you can do to get it back to optimal range.
Air conditioning: An efficient air conditioning system will reduce moisture in your home. Cold air can hold less moisture, so your AC will remove moisture from the air it circulates. If your AC is running and the air still feels humid, call an HVAC professional for help.
Exhaust fans: Pay special attention to the rooms in your home that have more natural moisture such as your bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room. Make sure to run exhaust fans to pull moist air from inside, especially in the summer. Check your dryer vent to make sure it’s sending warm, damp air outdoors.
Windows and storm doors: While these have a greater effect in the winter, new windows and doors can improve your home’s energy efficiency in any season. During cold months, double-pane windows are particularly helpful in reducing the effects of cold air on interior surfaces.
Air circulation: Leave doors open so air can circulate between rooms. Check to make sure your air vents are open so you can keep air flowing throughout your home.
Pipes: Insulate cold water pipes to prevent condensation in warm summer months. Dripping water can get behind walls and produce bacterial growth.
Dehumidifier: The most effective way to reduce the humidity in your home is to use a dehumidifier. They’re especially useful in basements or crawl spaces that feel damp year-round. You can find dehumidifier options for every area of your home. If you have questions, ask your HVAC professional what the best option is for you.
When it feels like the humidity has followed you into your home, take action before it leads to bigger problems. If you have questions about how to take action, call us today!