When most people think about humidity, their minds immediately conjure thoughts of moisture and rain outside. Here in Phoenix, humidity isn’t usually much of an issue. Because we’re in a warm and arid climate, we don’t have the same problem that’s found in the northwest or in the southeast. Inside our homes, though, is a completely different matter. When the ambient indoor humidity is too high or too low, we become quite aware of it. For such climates like here in the Valley of the Sun, indoor humidity is something you need to keep you comfortable during the winter months.
How to Balance Home Humidity this Winter
As the months roll off the calendar, there are changes with not only the outside temperature and humidity, but, also inside our homes. Few people understand what humidity actually is and how it relates to our comfort levels. When the moisture in the air rises, what’s known as the dew point, increases. The dew point is the literal amount of moisture in the air. Relative humidity, however, is how much moisture the air can hold, which depends on how dense it is at a given point.
Household humidity: too little of it and you’ll zap your dog with an arcing blue spark when you touch his nose; too much and your carpet starts sprouting mushrooms. Equipped with a hygrometer to measure humidity, you can assess your needs and choose from a wide variety of tools for controlling household humidity. —House Logic.com
Therefore, the relative humidity is just that — relative to the air density. Inside your home, an ideal range of humidity runs between 35 and 50 percent. While the latter might seem like it’s too much, consider the fact that an outdoor humidity level of 50 percent is quite refreshing, but, when it increases to the mid 70’s, it’s considered “oppressive,” especially when combined with a high temperature. The fact of the matter is, you and your home itself need humidity to keep you comfortable and it in good condition.
Dry indoor air causes a number of problems: it dries skin and often intensifies allergies, cracks and warps wood, shrinks caulk and glue, and also causes itchy eyes and nosebleeds. On the other hand, too much humidity is also a bad thing, causing window condensation, peeling wallpaper, promotes bacteria and algae growth. Here’s how to balance home humidity this winter:
- Seal all windows and exhaust fans. Did you know your home produces its own humidity? Unfortunately, it might not be enough to keep you comfortable and one common moisture wasting culprit are windows and exhaust fans, where it escapes through cracked caulking. So, seal the windows and exhaust fans to prevent loss of indoor moisture.
- Replace weatherstripping. Exterior doors are also sources of indoor humidity loss, through cracked or missing weatherstripping. Check all exterior doors and replace weatherstripping as needed.
- Run bathroom and kitchen fans. When showering or cooking, a lot of moisture is produced. This throws-off the balance of indoor humidity, causing too much moisture in the air. That excess moisture will soak into wood, such as hardwood floors, furniture, and more, causing damage over time. Run a kitchen hood and bathroom exhaust fans when cooking and showering.
- Install a whole-house humidification system. Another step you can take to balance the humidity in your home is to install a whole-house humidification system. This will not only keep you more comfortable but also, plants will live longer and wood surfaces won’t dry out.
You can also run your HVAC unit’s fan when there’s too much indoor humidity. When you need HVAC service or maintenance, give us a call and we’ll send out an experienced technician.