6 Ways to Reduce Relative Humidity in Your Home
Understanding Relative Humidity
Moisture is the number 1 enemy to any home. As moisture levels rise within a home, problems with mold growth and even water damage may present themselves. With health risks involved, mold growth is a serious problem affecting the Indoor Air Quality of your home. A rule of thumb is, when there is mold, moisture has also been present. It is for these essential reasons that homeowners should have a good understanding of Relative Humidity and the role it plays in creating problems for your home.
What is Excessive Moisture?
When talking about excessive moisture within a home, we commonly think of situations involving bulk water. For example, this could be a water leak situation from something like a plumbing failure, pipe burst, etc. Although, it's easy to overlook excessive moisture within the home in the form of water vapor. There comes a point when enough water vapor in the air is considered excessive and this is referred to as High Relative Humidity.
What is Relative Humidity?
All homeowners should have a basic understanding of Relative Humidity and how to control it. Lacking knowledge of Relative Humidity could potentially allow a moisture problem to unfold causing expensive repairs. More importantly, high relative humidity promotes an environment conducive to mold growth, which introduces health risks to those highly susceptible. Relative Humidity is the measure of water vapor content in the air in comparison to the air temperature, better known as ambient temperature.
The Relationship Between Temperature and Relative Humidity
When humidity remains constant and ambient temperature rises, relative humidity goes down. When humidity remains constant and ambient temperature decreases, relative humidity goes up. Why is this? Well, when air temperature is warmer, the air is capable of holding more moisture. On the other hand, when air temperature is cooler, it has less capacity to hold that same amount of moisture. This water vapor condenses onto surfaces where it can begin to create problems with mold and structural water damage if the moisture problem is not addressed properly.
What is the ideal Relative Humidity (RH) for a home?
Whether you have a slab home, basement home, or a home on a crawlspace, the ideal relative humidity for the inside of your home is between 40-50%. The ideal range for some could also stretch as wide as 30-60% depending on preference. In an environment where the RH is lower than 30%, the air will be too dry and uncomfortable. Dry air can dry out the skin, cause an itchy throat, and other symptoms. When the RH of the environment is above 50%, it can also be uncomfortable from the standpoint of being too wet. The air will feel moist, sticky, and even hard to breathe in. In addition to being uncomfortable, relative humidity levels of about 65% and higher create an environment that is conducive to mold growth. Mold growth creates health problems triggering symptoms like coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, skin flare ups, and other symptoms.
Ways to regulate Relative Humidity (RH)
Run a Dehumidifier
Running a dehumidifier is an efficient and effective way to extract moisture from any space. Using a dehumidifier allows one to control the RH in a specific area of the home that is prone to moisture issues, like a basement or crawlspace. In southern climates where it is hot and humid most of the year, we strongly recommend running a dehumidifier in every basement.
Keep Your HVAC System Running Consistently
HVAC systems are primarily meant for maintaining a comfortable temperature within the home. Another key role of your HVAC system is that it serves as a “Whole House” dehumidifier. As the system runs and pushes conditioned air out, it also sucks air back into the HVAC system via return vents. The moisture in this air is removed and sent to a floor drain or an HVAC condensate pump where it is sent out of the home. Therefore, it’s best to always have your HVAC system on and running its normal cycles.
Use Exhaust Fans To Remove Water Vapor
While cooking, use exhaust fans to remove moisture in the form of steam from the kitchen area. In bathrooms, it is a good idea to run the exhaust fan during hot showers. Even after you get out of the shower, keep the exhaust fan running for an additional 20 minutes or so while you get ready to remove as much excessive moisture from the air as possible. Remember, excessive moisture in regards to relative humidity is a level at 65% or above.
Open Windows When Possible To Ventilate The Home
Opening windows to let moisture out of the home and lower humidity levels. In the Fall and Spring seasons, shifting climate may cause your HVAC system to run less. Although this is great on energy bills, this also keeps your HVAC system from running enough to dehumidify the home as effectively. This is a great time to take advantage of opening windows and allow fresh air in. Keep in mind to always be aware of the RH levels outdoors as well and compare them to the levels inside your home before opening windows.
Fix Any Water Intrusion Issues
Make sure you don’t have any water entering the home from the outside. Keep gutters unclogged for proper drainage during rainfall. Make sure water is flowing away from the house with proper grading. Check windows and doors to make sure they are sealed properly.
Hang Dry Laundry Outside
In certain clothing, there are fabrics that cannot be placed in a dryer. In these cases, it is best to hang dry these clothes. If possible, only hand dry clothing outdoors to reduce this moisture from building up in the home. There are situations where you must hang dry indoors, but only do so where there is a dehumidifier present in the same room.
If you have any issues managing moisture in your home and need professional help, reach out to us.