When the humidity level is too high in your home, not only are you uncomfortable but problems like mold and mildew occur and damage your belongings. Too much moisture in your home can damage wood, paint, insulation, siding, and can make a mess of your electronics too. When you have a high level of humidity, allergens, dust mites, mold, and mildew prosper, which causes breathing problems from allergies, asthma, and other lung issues. Humidity in the air can make the heat feel worse and can make you miserable in the warm months.
What is the ideal indoor humidity for your home? R & S Mechanical Services can ensure the humidity levels inside your home are just right. Our professional HVAC services establish air quality for you to be comfortable, healthy, and your furnishings to be unharmed. We wanted to give you some information in this article about ideal indoor humidity, relative humidity, acceptable and unacceptable humidity levels, what are the causes, and what can be done to correct the air quality in your home.
What is Humidity?
In understanding humidity levels, first let’s define what humidity is. Humidity is a measurement of the amount of water that is in the air. Air that contains water is called water vapor. Water vapor is invisible to the eye. Relative humidity is the measurement of how much water vapor is in the air as compared to how much it can hold at that temperature. For example, a relative humidity of 50 percent means that the air is holding ½ of the water vapor that it could hold. We need some humidity in order to feel comfortable and be healthy. Moisture is a good thing when it is at an acceptable level. So, our indoor air water vapor should be in moderation.
Why is a Healthy Balance of Moisture Important?
Having an acceptable balance of moisture is important for our health. High humidity can cause musty smells, clammy air, the temperature to feel hotter than it is, breathing difficulty, and general misery. An indoor high humidity level can affect your health and actually make you sick. Too much moisture is an environment that promotes mold to grow and bugs to multiply. All of these things create an unhealthy environment for your home.
Furthermore, too little moisture in your home can have negative health effects just as too much moisture can. While not as serious as the health hazards in high humidity situations, too little humidity causes dry skin, hair damage, throat and nose irritations, inflammation of the mucous membranes in the throat and nose. When humidity levels are too low, your home can have cracking and shrinking around molding, door and window frames. Wood will warp and bend as the dried wood shrinks in size when there is not enough humidity in a house.
Acceptable Levels of Humidity in Your Home
According to the Mayo Clinic, the ideal indoor humidity level is 30% - 50% for an environment that promotes health. This means that the air holds between 30 and 50% of the maximum amount of moisture it can contain. When the humidity level in your home is above 50%, you might feel uncomfortable and experience the negative results of too much moisture. When the level of humidity is below 30%, you will start to see the consequences of not enough moisture.
During the winter months, the ideal humidity level is between 30 - 40% whereas during the summer it is 40 - 50%, depending on the outside temperature. This creates an environment where you feel cool in the summer and warm in the winter, making you very comfortable all year round.
A hygrometer measures temperature and relative humidity. This instrument is very useful when determining if your indoor humidity levels are ideal.
Reasons Why Your House Is Too Humid
There are a variety of factors that affect the moisture level of your home, including:
- Design of house
- Construction and materials of house
- Vapor barrier
- How airtight the house is
The surrounding climate and temperature also has a direct effect on the humidity in your home. A climate like Florida will have a higher relative humidity than one in New England or a drier state like Arizona.
A home can also experience higher humidity when it has an oversized air conditioner. If an AC unit has a capacity that is much too large for a home, it cools too quickly and has short cycles. Short cycles means the unit turns on and off frequently, which allows humidity to increase. The evaporator coil inside the AC helps act as a dehumidifier and pulls moisture from the air, but only when the air passing through the unit has enough time. If your AC unit is coming on and turning off too often, the humidity hangs in the air. The way you can tell if this is happening is by timing how long the unit runs. On a very hot day, the unit would only run for 10 - 15 minutes per cycle before it turns off.
How to Prevent High Humidity in Your Home
Here are some ways to reduce a high humidity level in your home:
Check the AC Unit for Efficiency
Be sure that your AC unit is not too large and is not performing short cycles that are inefficient. If this is the case or you aren’t quite sure, our NATE certified HVAC technicians can evaluate your HVAC unit and provide you with the best options to fit your budget.
Use an Indoor Air Quality System
There are a range of systems that can help improve your indoor air quality including
UV germicidal lights, air purifiers and air scrubbers, media air cleaners, steam humidifiers, bypass and fan powered humidifiers.
Be Sure Water Isn’t Getting Into the House
Check the roof and brickwork regularly for leaks and cracks that allow water into the house.
Be Sure the House is Properly Ventilated
You can crack windows, use fans, and air conditioners to ventilate the house. Rooms like the kitchen, the laundry room, and bathrooms can hold moisture. Use a ventilation hood when you are cooking and extractor fans in the bathroom and laundry room.
Heat and Cool Your House Consistently
Your home won’t have as many humidity problems if it is properly heated and cooled. Maintain a relatively constant temperature. In the winter, this can mean turning the thermostat down a bit so the heat stays on for longer. In the summer, you would turn the thermostat up so the air conditioning stays on longer. This reduces the opportunity for warm air to cool and cause condensation. Having regular HVAC maintenance can help make sure your heating and cooling system is working optimally.
Contact R&S Mechanical Services to Improve the Relative Humidity Level in Your Home
If your home is not at the ideal humidity level, contact us at R & S Mechanical Services. We have many indoor air quality systems and our HVAC technicians are experienced at servicing your HVAC system so that it functions at its best. We can diagnose if there are any issues that need to be addressed. Call us at (919) 823-7368 or complete the form below to find out more about our services.