What Is Indoor Humidity, and How Can I Control it?

If you’ve ever felt sticky inside your home or experienced dry eye and breathing problems, you may have poor indoor humidity levels. Moisture can make the air feel heavy outside, but at the right levels, it contributes to greater comfort inside.

What Is Indoor Humidity?

Humidity refers to the amount of water vapor in the air. Indoor humidity always differs from exterior humidity. Depending on your heating and air-conditioning, humidity levels may rise and fall inside your home throughout the year.

Overwhelming humidity inside a house may make the air feel thick, but even slightly elevated levels can contribute to mold and insect infestations. Black widow spiders, cockroaches, and other uninviting creatures thrive in moisture-rich environments. Humidity can contribute to rot, peeling paint, and unsightly water stains.

Poor humidity can cause wooden floors and furniture to contract and feel uncomfortable. Dry air contributes to dryness in the nose, throat, eyes, and skin, creating uncomfortable sensations and increasing the likelihood of illness.

Measuring Indoor Humidity

Both low and high humidity levels can affect musical instruments and cooking. The optimal indoor humidity level hovers between 40% and 60%. You can purchase a hygrometer at big box stores or online to find out your home’s actual levels.

Humidity may vary throughout your home. The kitchen, bathroom, and basement will likely be more humid than other rooms. To gain an understanding of your home’s general humidity, measure the levels in the most-frequented rooms before you try to adjust it overall.

Controlling Indoor Humidity

Some humidifiers work as complementary systems to HVAC systems. These built-in or attached solutions monitor and adjust humidity to maintain the optimal range. If you do not have a humidifier connected to your HVAC system, however, you can take these steps:

  • Purchase a humidifier or dehumidifier. Depending on the humidity levels in your home, you may need a humidifier, dehumidifier, or both. Dehumidifiers use cooling coils to pull water out of the air. The drier air moves back into the room, while the moisture moves into a removal container for emptying. Humidifiers, on the other hand, add moisture to the air using vibration technology or heat to produce water vapor. In the South, you may need a humidifier for winter and a dehumidifier for summer.
  • Install exhaust fans. To remove moisture from the air, you may also want to install exhaust fans in the kitchen, bathroom, and other humid areas. Fans direct moisturized air outside the home to keep humidity levels within optimal ranges.
  • Boil water. If you need some instant relief from dry air, put a big pot of water on the stove on high heat. Watch the stove to prevent the pot from burning, and enjoy the humidifying benefits of warm water vapor in the kitchen.

Humidity can contribute to or take away from your airflow experience. If you’re curious about your own home’s humidity levels, add a hygrometer to your shopping list and talk to your HVAC provider about possible built-in humidifying solutions.

Advent Air would be happy to help you better understand your home comfort options when it comes to monitoring and controlling indoor humidity. Contact us today for more information.

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