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Your home’s humidity not only affects the comfort of anyone inside of it, but also the health of your house itself. The ideal in-home humidity level should hover around 45%. Keeping it over 30% might be challenging in the winter, as is keeping it under 50% in the summer.

Low humidity levels occur in winter because cold air holds less moisture, and using a forced air furnace – to keep the air warm – causes even more moisture to be removed from the home’s air because the furnace combustion burns out what water vapor did exist. Low humidity can cause wooden floors and furniture to split. To combat low humidity, adding a humidifier to your home will help maintain a proper balance. One option is adding a whole home unit to the furnace, which would distribute water vapor within the heated air throughout the duct system. While the most expensive option, a whole home humidifier, yields the best results. There are a variety of portable room humidifiers that you can place in specific rooms that are more problematic.

High humidity levels occur in summer months when the outdoor air carries more water, though it can be observed by having condensation around your windows in the winter months. This can cause problems if water vapor penetrates walls or ceilings and mold starts growing. It can also affect your energy consumption, as you tend to feel hotter in more humid environments. It can also warp floors and peel wall paint. To combat humidity, a reasonably priced option is to add a portable dehumidifier in the basement – just make sure you empty it daily, or have the water drained out continuously with a hose. A high-cost solution is to install an Energy Recovery Ventilator to the home’s HVAC system.  Low-cost solutions include ensuring bathroom and kitchen fans run and exhaust steam outdoors.

Your home’s humidity has different effects depending on the time of year.  Ensure your home has the proper systems and appliances to deal with it appropriately.

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Keith Langlois

RHI | NHI

Registered Home Inspector
National Home Inspector
Licensed Electrician