The 411 On High Humidity Levels In Your Home

Due to the different systems that are necessary for the construction and function of your home, maintenance can be overwhelming. From removing clogs in your drains to regularly cleaning out your dryer vent, these tasks are essential to protect your house. Unfortunately, you may not be placing enough time and energy into your home's indoor air quality and humidity levels. Since your home's heating and air conditioning plays a key role in indoor air quality and humidity, proper understanding of this system is smart. Using this guide, you will understand the dangers of high humidity levels and learn how your HVAC system can repair the problem.

The 411 on High Humidity

Moisture can come into your home in a variety of ways. Roof or plumbing leaks, wet basements, damp crawlspaces, improper ventilation of appliances, sewer backups, cooking, showering, and blocked drainage systems can all increase the moisture content in your home. In addition, issues affecting your air conditioner will prevent the system from removing heat and humidity from the air.

Some thermostats display a humidity reading. However, using a hygrometer is also an effective option for determining the humidity level in your home. To use, hold the digital hygrometer in the air of various areas of your home. The gauge works in a similar manner as a digital thermometer.

Safe, healthy humidity levels in your home should range between 30 and 50 percent. If your thermostat or hygrometer displays a higher reading, you have an excess amount of humidity in the home.

 Here are a few other signs that you have high humidity levels in the home:

  • Mold or mildew growth on walls
  • Condensation around walls, pipes, and windows
  • Peeling or bubbling paint and wallpaper
  • Musty, foul smells in home

High humidity also affects your health. If the humidity levels are high inside your home, you may develop dry and itchy skin, headaches, fatigue, and dizziness. High humidity has also been linked to causing depression.

If mold is present due to the humidity, your respiratory system may suffer, causing wheezing, coughing, and breathing difficulties. Mold also increases your risk of eye irritation and allergic reactions on the skin.

Reducing High Humidity Levels

Before reducing higher levels of humidity in the home, you will need to determine the cause. This can be a difficult and time-consuming process, since it will require some trial and error.

To get started, make sure the kitchen and bathrooms are properly ventilated. Your kitchen's stovetop should be ventilated. Also, each bathroom should have a bath fan, which is imperative for removing moisture.

Check your basement and crawlspace for any signs of leaks, which may be causing your humidity issue. Repair any cracks in the basement walls and floor and make sure your crawlspace has a vapor barrier for added insulation.

The excess humidity in your home may also stem from your actual heating and cooling units. An over-sized air conditioning unit is a common cause of high humidity levels in your home. When the unit is over-sized, it will stop running once the temperature reaches its set point. Known as short cycling, an over-sized unit will prevent the air conditioning unit from running long enough to pull the heat AND humidity from the air.  

To determine if your unit is sized correctly, contractors will need to complete a load calculation. Each ton represents 12,000 BTUs of heat removed from the home in an hour and 25 BTUs are needed to cool each square foot of your home. Using these numbers, a 2,000 square foot home will need around 50,000 BTUs, which a 4 ton unit would provide. If you have high humidity due to an over-sized system, consider replacing the unit with one that offers a lower tonnage.

To avoid replacing an over-sized unit, add a central dehumidifier. Central dehumidifiers are ducted through your air conditioning system to remove moisture from the home, improving comfort and the quality of your indoor air. Dehumidifiers may seem like a large, overwhelming expensive, but they are excellent investments for your home and health.

High levels of humidity can wreak havoc on your home and health, so proper understanding and restoration are key. Using this guide and the help of your contractor, you can determine the cause of your high humidity and restore your indoor air back to a healthy, comfortable state.