Humidity in your home can be extremely problematic, but only if it’s over a certain level. In truth, the average person is bound to be most comfortable when humidity levels are in the 40-50% range, and according to the EPA, this is ideal for optimum indoor air quality (except in the winter, when a range of 30-40% humidity is preferable to avoid issues like condensation). But when humidity levels exceed 50%, you could start facing serious issues that pose a danger to your home and your health.
For example, mold and mildew tend to thrive in high humidity, as do bacteria and dust mites. All of these can lead to respiratory and other health problems, and mold and mildew can also cause damage to you home. That is, of course, in addition to the harm that is related to excess moisture in and of itself, such as water damage and even rot over time. Luckily, there are several steps you can take to lower and control the high humidity levels in your home.
The first step is to figure out just how much moisture is in your interior air, and this can easily be accomplished with the use of a hygrometer, a device that measures the temperature and relative humidity in your space. If levels are well above 50% humidity, you’ll definitely want to take steps to rectify the situation. You might want to begin by considering the source of the humidity, and it could originate inside, outside, or both. If, for example, you’re experiencing excess moisture only in common areas like the kitchen or bathrooms, you can treat these localized problems simply enough by installing a hood vent over your stove and adequate ceiling fans for ventilation in bathrooms, where steam created by the shower can definitely contribute to moisture problems. You can also think about putting portable dehumidifiers in these rooms or adding them to bedrooms and shared spaces if your humidity issues are more widespread.
But these methods of controlling humidity won’t really address the problem if the moisture is coming from the outside environment. In this case you’ll need to take a whole-home approach to solving the issue. This begins with performing a home energy audit. When you know where points of ingress are, such as around windows, doors, vents, and pipes, you can add various types of seals to stop the flow of air between inside and out. You may also need to enhance or upgrade insulation. But once you’ve made your home airtight, don’t forget that you also need to add appropriate ventilation to ensure that moisture isn’t trapped indoors, exacerbating your problem instead of fixing it.
Once you’ve got your home sealed tight as a drum, it might also be wise to add a whole-home dehumidifier to your HVAC system. And of course, you need to make sure that you’re using the right HVAC equipment. You might not understand the importance of load calculations, but when you’re using the wrong size furnace or AC unit for your home, humidity is just one of the problems you may experience as a result. So take the time to thoroughly address all of the components that work together to reduce humidity levels in your home.