“It’s not just the heat; it’s the humidity.”
For Texans, moisture and humidity are a regular part of life. Proper temperature control inside your home keeps you and your family comfortable on those especially hot and humid summer days.
While air conditioning controls heat and humidity, moisture can still enter your house and bring problems with it, such as mildew and mold. Knowing how to control humidity in homes can make your house more energy-efficient, reducing your energy bills.
In this guide to moisture control, we explore the causes and risks of high humidity in houses and ways to control moisture levels to keep your house comfortable and energy-efficient.
What is Considered High Humidity?
According to ENERGY STAR®, the ideal indoor humidity level is between 30% and 50% in the summer and between 25% and 40% in the winter. However, the best humidity level for your home will depend on the season and the room. For example, bedrooms should have about 50% humidity regardless of the time of year to help reduce allergens and other irritants.
High indoor humidity and moisture levels are not just a hindrance to your family’s comfort; they can be detrimental to your health. Too much moisture can lead to mold, mildew, dust mites, and other pollutants, which can cause respiratory issues, especially for individuals who have asthma or allergies.
High humidity also causes damage to your home, from surfaces like paint and siding to structural issues in the wood and other materials. Knowing how to control humidity in your home is critical.
Ways to Check for High Humidity in Your Home
Signs of high humidity can be as simple as the feeling in the air. You may feel a heavy, warm atmosphere or notice windows fogging. Sometimes it helps to leave your house briefly and come back to get a fresh perspective and notice if anything feels overly humid. If you can smell a musty odor, that is a result of moisture building up in your home.
Here are a few more tips to determine if your house has excessive humidity:
- Look for condensation on cooler surfaces, such as pipes, mirrors, and windows.
- Examine the ceiling for crumbling or wet stains.
- Pay attention to physical symptoms of high humidity in homes, like clammy skin, chronic coughing, loss or shortness of breath, and severe headaches.
- Walk the floors and look for peeling paint or creaking floorboards.
- Notice if any surfaces like walls or shelves feel soft or moist.
You can purchase humidity monitors online or at your local hardware store to monitor indoor moisture. Knowing how to check the moisture level in homes can help you determine what adjustments you can make to bring high humidity in the house down to a safe level.
Causes of High Humidity
One of the most common signs of high humidity is moisture building up on windows, but this isn’t always a cause for concern. Condensation naturally forms on windows when there is a difference in temperature on the outside from the inside. However, if you can’t easily wipe the moisture away with a cloth, the moisture is in between the panes, which indicates a larger problem.
Several factors can lead to high moisture levels and humidity, including the local climate and how airtight your home is. Even the design and construction materials used to build your house can have an impact on your home’s humidity levels.
In warmer climates, an oversized air conditioning unit can contribute to high humidity in a house. Make sure your AC system is the right size for your home. If it’s too large, the unit cools your home too quickly, turning on and off in short cycles.
Risks of High Humidity
Excessive humidity can lead to high humidity sickness, which includes a wide variety of health issues and symptoms, such as:
- Low energy and lethargy
- Heat exhaustion and heat stroke
- Muscle cramps
- Trouble breathing
To counter the health effects of high humidity sickness, drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Keep the indoor temperature as consistent as possible and make efforts to control humidity to reduce symptoms.
Ways to Control Humidity & Decrease Moisture in Homes
Fortunately, there are multiple ways you can control humidity and moisture levels inside your house, from purchasing equipment to making larger upgrades.
While small dehumidifiers are available for high-humidity rooms, such as basements, you can purchase larger dehumidifiers for your entire home. These devices work best when placed away from walls and other items in the room, which allows air to flow more easily.
Taking time to inspect and improve the ventilation systems in your home can play a big role in establishing safe humidity levels. Places like kitchens and bathrooms where moisture easily builds up deserve extra attention. Use exhaust fans in these rooms when moisture is present and add additional fans or crack a window to remove moisture from these spaces.
Air Conditioning Systems
Your AC unit doesn’t just keep your home cool; it also helps to remove moisture. Make sure your air conditioning system is the right size for your home and have it inspected regularly by a professional to ensure that it’s working properly.
Weatherstripping & Caulking
Weatherstripping helps make your home more airtight and prevents air from escaping and excess humidity from sneaking into your house. In warmer climates like Texas, weatherstripping is especially important for keeping humid air out.
Similar to weatherstripping, caulking helps to keep humid air from seeping in and treated air from escaping. The main difference is that caulking is used around windows and seams, and on surfaces that frequently experience moisture, like sinks, toilets, and bathtubs.
Proper insulation retains heat during colder months and prevents cool air from escaping in the summertime. If you live in an older home, you may need to add insulation to keep humid air out and ensure your HVAC system doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain the temperature.
Interior Adjustments & Lifestyle Changes
In addition to these larger changes , smaller adjustments and new habits can help you learn how to control humidity in your home.
- Install ceiling fans.
- Clean air conditioning ducts and filters regularly.
- Set the fan on your AC unit to “Auto” instead of “On.”
- Paint walls instead of using wallpaper or vinyl wall coverings.
- Consider replacing rugs and carpet with tile or wood flooring.
- Take shorter, cooler showers.
- Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clean.
- Have a professional regularly inspect your roof for loose shingles and deterioration.
- Store firewood outside.
Benefits of Good Home Humidity Levels
Keeping your home’s moisture and humidity under control can prevent damage to your property’s structure and surfaces. It can also keep everyone in your home more comfortable. High humidity can exacerbate or cause breathing problems because it promotes growth of pollutants and allergens.
While high humidity can be hazardous, so can low humidity. Dry indoor air is uncomfortable and can cause issues in the winter months, so learn how to keep moisture in the air at home at the right levels. It’s important to maintain proper moisture and humidity levels to keep your home comfortable and all the residents as healthy as possible.
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