How Can a Homeowner Reduce Indoor Humidity Levels at Home?
- June 24, 2015
When it comes to home comfort, the humidity level is just as important as the temperature. Summer is the most common time for high humidity problems, especially in North Carolina’s climate. Follow this advice to identify moisture problems and reduce indoor humidity.
Signs of High Humidity
When excess home moisture rears its ugly head, you’ll know it. Just watch for these signs:
- Foggy, sweating windows
- Musty odor
- Clammy skin
- Water stains on the ceiling or walls
- Mold growth in the bathroom or basement
- Damaged wood furniture, paint or siding
- Allergy problems caused by mold growth and dust mite prevalence
Sources of Home Humidity
How does indoor air become so humid in the first place? Outdoor conditions certainly contribute, but plenty of appliances and activities create moisture from the inside as well. Here are the most common sources of home humidity:
- Leaky windows and doors letting humid air from outside enter the home
- Hot water use, including showering, running the dishwasher and boiling water on the stove
- Improperly vented dryers
- Wet clothing, upholstery or carpet
- House plants and firewood
- Damp basements or crawl spaces
- Leaky roofs
How to Reduce Indoor Humidity
The goal is to keep relative humidity below 50 percent in the summer. This helps you avoid that cold, clammy feeling and alleviates other symptoms of high humidity. Top tips to reduce indoor humidity include the following:
- Ventilate – Most homes have exhaust fans in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room. Run these fans when you cook, shower and dry clothes in the dryer to vent hot, humid air outside. Make sure these vents exhaust air outside, not into the attic or other enclosed space.
- Run a fan – Air circulation helps dry moist surfaces, so if your carpets or upholstered furniture are shampooed, run a fan to reduce indoor humidity.
- Crack a window – On mild days when it’s less humid outside, crack a window to let dry outdoor air mix with humid indoor air.
- Run the air conditioner – Along with cooling your home, air conditioners also dehumidify. Just make sure to set the thermostat fan to “auto.” Keeping the fan in the “on” position sends extracted moisture back into your home before it can drip away through the condensate drain. The “auto” setting saves money and prevents humidity problems.
- Check the air conditioner drain pan – If it’s overflowing, you could have hidden humidity and moisture problems. Clear the drain line with a stiff wire so the water can drain.
- Run a dehumidifier – If your skin feels cold and clammy, the air conditioner might not be keeping up with humidity removal. A separate whole-house dehumidifier, which can run independently of the air conditioner, reduces moisture levels for a more comfortable interior.
- Seal air leaks – On hot and humid days, you want humidity to stay out of your home. Sealing air leaks around windows and doors reduces air infiltration from outside.
- Install a vapor retarder in the crawl space – Bare earth floors are a tremendous source of moisture, which can greatly contribute to high indoor humidity. Heavy polyethylene sheets act as vapor retarders to prevent mold, fungus and mildew in the crawl space.
- Hang laundry outside – If you want to save energy by not running the dryer, hang clothes on a line outside.
- Use lids when cooking – Steam from a pot of boiling water adds vapor to the air. Keep a lid on pots and pans to reduce indoor humidity and save on energy costs while cooking.
- Keep plants outside – Moist soil adds humidity to the air. If some plants can’t survive outside, confine them to one room and be sure not to overwater them. Can’t live without house plants? Opt for Boston ferns, which absorb moisture from the air.
- Store firewood outside – Fresh-cut wood gives off moisture as it dries, so keep it outside.
For more information about how to reduce indoor humidity for better comfort, fewer allergies and protection for delicate belongings, check out the indoor air quality services from Comfort Services, Inc. You can also call us at 866-357-4613 to learn more.
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