Stepping outside in Alabama in August means two things- heat and humidity! To many people the heat is tolerable but the humidity is what makes it almost unbearable! When humidity levels rise in our homes though, it can be more than just uncomfortable. Let’s explore what the ideal humidity level indoors should be, what causes humidity in our homes, what happens when the levels are not ideal, and things we can do to make them right.
What should the humidity level be in my home?
Just in case you are not sure what we mean when we say humidity, let’s define it. Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. The amount of water vapor the air can hold changes with its temperature. Experts recommend the air in our homes hold between 30-40% and never above 60% humidity. Around the 50% humidity mark is when it becomes very easy for mold and mildew to develop. During winter the recommended humidity level in your home is around 20%.
What causes high or low humidity in my home?
There are a lot of factors that can contribute to a high or low humidity level in your home. One contributor is your HVAC system. Your air conditioning system does act as a dehumidifier but the level it can work is sometimes limited. Air leaks in the ductwork can cause moisture issues around vents and other places in your home. Running the air conditioner a lot (as we tend to do in the summertime in the south) can remove too much humidity leaving the air very dry.
Water leaks happening in your home are also a contributor to extra moisture in your air. These can come from outside around your foundation (rain from a summer thunderstorm?) or from plumbing issues. Even minor slow leaks can wreak havoc on your indoor air quality if left long enough. Basements and crawlspaces may seem “Ok” to leave with extra humidity because you may not spend a lot of time there but the moisture down there can cause many problems upward in your home over time.
It is important to address any water leaks asap and have them repaired. If you have water leaking in your basement or crawlspace, Aqua-Guard can help and we offer free estimates.
What are the effects of high or low humidity in my home?
High humidity levels in your home are the perfect habitat for mold and mildew to grow. Along with expensive repair and removal costs, your health can be sacrificed while you unknowingly breathe in these particles. Nasal and sinus congestion, cough, wheezing, breathing difficulties, sore throat, skin and eye irritations, and upper respiratory infections can all be signs mold and mildew exposure. Moisture is a key component for mold and mildew to thrive.
When humidity levels are too low you can feel it in your body also. If your skin and eyes are dry and irritated, your allergies are more inflamed than usual and your sinuses feel dry and cracked then you could benefit from adding a little moisture in your air with a personal humidifier. Most people experience this in the winter when they are running their furnace often.
High humidity levels can wreak havoc on the structure of your home. From your foundation, to your floors and carpet, to your windows and ceilings- excess moisture can cause warping and bowing and eventually rot. Basements and crawlspaces are especially susceptible to the effects of moisture in your home because of the lack of ventilation. These areas are literally the foundation of your home and hold everything up. It only makes sense to make sure they are healthy and strong.
Symptoms of High Humidity in Your Home
If you notice any of the following happening in your home, it would be a good idea to have the humidity level checked and addressed:
Wallpaper or paint peeling off your walls
Windows or doors that stick (often due to warping of the wood frame around them)
Any kind of visible mold or mildew growth anywhere in your house
Warping or buckling of flooring or carpet
Visible water or water stains in your basement or crawlspace
A damp musty smell or just an odor that seems “off” anywhere in your home.
What can we do to adjust the humidity levels in our homes?
If you see condensation forming around AC vents or on the windows or walls or any of the symptoms listed above, it would be smart to call your AC company to have them first do a check-up. Oftentimes, simple adjustments to your cooling systems can remedy these.
If the humidity is off in your basement or crawlspace, you will want to let Aqua-Guard come out and have a look. We can pinpoint any moisture issues, find the best way to address them, and get your levels back in a healthy range asap. Waterproofing may be your best route to keep moisture from entering your home or encapsulation may be the route you want to take to make sure the environment is sealed and there is no opportunity for any mold or mildew growth at all. We will present your options and help you make an informed decision with prices that are reasonable. Reach out to us today for a free estimate and a single point of contact from beginning to end!