Measuring and Maintaining your Home Humidity Levels

Humidity in our homes is both a blessing and a curse. Much of Canada faces exceptionally dry winters and oppressively humid summers. This means we’re trying to increase humidity during part of the year, and remove it quickly during other times. Measuring and maintaining your home humidity levels can be a challenge, one that never seems to end.

Throughout the winter months, we want to add humidity to our homes, making it easier to breathe, keeping our houseplants happy, and bringing some relief to dry skin and hair. Low humidity in our homes cause static, dry skin, occasional nosebleeds, increased susceptibility to colds, and can damage wood floors and furnishings.

In the summer, hot, sticky humid days can be miserable, making fresh air from an open window an impossibility. Not only does humidity make it difficult to feel cool, but it’s an environment where bacteria and dust mites thrive, humidity can cause damp odors and damage in your home, including mold. This can in turn affect your home’s indoor air quality, and mold caused by excessive moisture can damage your drywall and flooring. Air that feels heavy can make it difficult to sleep, and certain health conditions such as asthma can be exacerbated by these conditions, making it difficult to breathe.

In short, humidity can be problematic for your home, and your health. Here’s how to tackle it head-on:


What Should the Humidity Be in Your Home?

Home humidity levels can vary due to personal preference and comfort, and of course, will differ by season. Throughout the summer months, you’ll probably want your home’s humidity to be in the 40% to 50% range. Anything over 60% is sure to be uncomfortable and cause your home to feel muggy. Keeping your home’s humidity in the 30-50% range helps to prevent the growth of mold and mildew year-round.

During the winter, your home should ideally be in the 30% to 40% range for optimum comfort. Humidity levels over 40% may cause condensation to form on your windows.

If you are having trouble maintaining comfortable and appropriate humidity levels in your home, you may want to call a heating and cooling system repair service to have your home’s HVAC system inspected.


How to Measure Humidity in Your Home

There are a few devices that can help you to effectively measure the humidity in your home. A humidistat, which is usually wired to a humidifier attached to your home’s HVAC system.

There are a variety of simple things you can do to maintain humidity in your home, especially during the spring and fall seasons when humidity levels are less extreme. During the cooler months, to add more humidity to your home, try placing containers of water near your air vents and let the heated air spread the moisture throughout the room. Other tips include boiling a pot of water, running the shower with hot water, or hanging your laundry to dry inside rather than using a clothes dryer. You may prefer to invest in a humidifier, either one that helps to add humidity to a specific room, or a whole-home humidifier that attaches to your furnace. These air systems offer high efficiencies and require very little maintenance.

Ventilation Systems like Energy Recovery Ventilators, can also be added to your existing HVAC system, serving as an energy-efficient solution to clean and maintain the humidity of the air inside your home, maintaining an ideal level of 30%-50% humidity.

Throughout the warmer months, to decrease the humidity level in your home, consider investing in a dehumidifier or turning on exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen to expel moist air. The simplest method is to install or periodically run your home’s central air conditioning system, which will whisk away humid air in a flash. Air conditioning systems are the ideal way to reduce humidity while cooling your space during the summer months.

By controlling your indoor humidity levels, you’ll not only be more comfortable, but you’ll also protect your home. If you feel that your home’s humidity could use an adjustment, or want advice on how to make your indoor air more comfortable, it might be worth speaking to a licensed HVAC professional. They are the experts when it comes to home comfort systems, and can recommend energy-efficient systems to keep the humidity in your home at the most comfortable levels.