Why Proper Relative Humidity Matters for Your Home
To most people, humidity is rarely in the conversation when trying to make your home a more comfortable place to live in. We usually rearrange or buy better furniture, upgrade the decor, or repaint the walls first. Having the wrong humidity level in your home can cause personal discomfort and damage to your household. Let’s discuss what humidity is and why having a proper relative humidity instrument is essential for your home.
What Is Humidity and How Does It Work?
Humidity is defined by the amount of water vapor in the air. The higher the temperature, the more water vapor the air can hold. Humidity is a natural part of the atmosphere, as water vapor enters the atmosphere by evaporating from bodies of water on the Earth’s surface including lakes and oceans.
It is an important part of the water cycle, as water vapor is continuously generated by evaporation and removed by condensation. When the temperature is higher, the air can hold more water vapor, meaning that the warmer the climate, the higher the humidity level can be.
What Is Relative Humidity and How Is It Measured?
Relative humidity (RH) is the ratio that is expressed as a percentage of the amount of water vapor present in the air to the greatest amount possible at the same temperature. Humidity is measured using a hygrometer, a tool that utilizes various materials and measurements to gauge a room or space’s level of water vapor.
What Is the Ideal Humidity in a Home?
Maintaining healthy humidity levels in a home is especially important. Poor humidity levels can have a dramatic effect on health and the home itself. High humidity will cause dampness and mold which could intensify allergies and respiratory problems. Low humidity can make the air dry and uncomfortable which can cause very dry skin, sinus and throat irritation, and static electricity.
A humidity level that is around 50% and no higher is the ideal indoor humidity level to maintain in a home during warm summer months. In colder winter months, the humidity level may need to be adjusted depending on the outdoor temperature.
Here’s a quick guide on what your home’s humidity level should be compared to outdoor temperature:
- 20˚F and 50˚F, indoor humidity levels should be less than 40%
- 10˚F and 20˚F, indoor humidity levels should be less than 35%
- 0˚F and 10˚F, indoor humidity levels should be less than 30%
- -10˚F and 0˚F, indoor humidity levels should be less than 25%
- -20˚F and -10˚F, indoor humidity levels should be less than 20%
- -20˚F or lower, indoor humidity levels should be less than 15%
Keeping the humidity level balanced in your home mitigates static electricity in the winter, protects your wood floors and furniture against cracking, reduces unhealthy contaminants such as mold, mildew, and bacteria, and makes your home more comfortable overall.
Humidity and Mold Growth
Humidity levels above 55% to 60% can lead to the growth of mold. If the humidity levels are above 70% you can possibly see mold growth in hours. Mold can grow anywhere that has elevated levels of humidity.
It is a natural process, but it can also indicate other problems in your home. Mold spores are everywhere, and the only way to avoid them is to eliminate all indoor moisture sources. Humidity level plays a leading role in molds’ ability to grow and the speed at which it does.
When a high level of humidity meets a cold surface, it will cause water droplets that result in mold growth. To avoid this issue, keep cold surfaces dry by using a dehumidifier. Proper insulation and ventilation will also help balance home humidity levels.
Mold is often found in bathrooms and basements due to high humidity levels from showers, baths, sinks, and toilets. If mold does grow on a ceiling or wall the humidity levels are extremely high and will likely continue growing if action is not taken to reduce the levels.
What Can Be Done to Reduce the Humidity in a Home?
There are several things that can be done to reduce humidity levels and prevent mold growth:
- Use a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air
- Make sure that all appliances and fixtures are properly vented
- Fix any leaks or water damage that may be present
- Keep the home clean and free of clutter
- Open windows and doors to allow air to circulate
Overall, it’s important to maintain the right humidity level in your home as outdoor temperatures change. Poor humidity can cause respiratory issues, ruin your art, and damage wood, electronics, or other aspects of your home which can end up being a costly endeavor.