Many people are not aware of the effect high humidity in your home can have on your health, comfort, and even the structure itself. High humidity levels are a problem in many homes, especially during the hot, humid summer months. The heavy moist air can make your home environment feel warm and sticky. It can cause mold growth and wood rot, and damage your paint, drywall, and siding. It can also cause poor indoor air quality leading to asthma attacks, virus transmission, and more.
What Is Humidity?
There are two relative terms to consider when it comes to humidity and the discomfort and damage that it could cause. The first is humidity, and the second is dew point.
Humidity refers to the amount of moisture that the air holds at any given moment. The higher the humidity level, the more moisture the air contains. When the air becomes saturated with moisture, it can trigger rainfall.
The dew point is the temperature to which the air must be cooled in order for it to become saturated with moisture. It is used to provide a measure of the actual amount of water vapor in the air – so the higher the dew point rises, the more moisture in the air.
The relationship between dew point and humidity is very important. The lower the temperature, the less moisture the air can hold. When it is hotter a lower humidity level can still be uncomfortable, because the air can hold more moisture instead of causing precipitation.
Humidity Affects Comfort
You likely have heard the old saying: “It isn’t the heat, it’s the humidity.” That saying has been around for a long time because it is true. High humidity in your home makes it harder to be comfortable by making it harder for your body to cool naturally. When your body can’t cool off because of the high humidity, you can’t get comfortable.
A good example is someone who might live in Las Vegas, where the temperature might be in the 90s but with low humidity, taking a flight to Orlando, where the temperature might be in the 80s with high humidity. Despite coming from a notoriously hot locale, the Las Vegas resident might feel very uncomfortable in the higher humidity in Orlando despite the about 10-degree drop in temperature. Returning to hotter but drier Las Vegas would be a welcome relief from the humidity.
The same is true of your home, where a whole-home dehumidifier installation could deliver much-needed relief and comfort from high humidity levels.
Humidity Affects Health
Inside your home, it is best to have a humidity level that is not too dry but also is not so humid that you cannot be comfortable. An ideal home humidity level is between about 30 percent and 50 percent, which ensures your body can cool itself naturally.
When the humidity level rises higher than that, it could make it harder to sleep and relax. A loss of sleep and higher levels of stress certainly affect your health and might cause you to make mistakes, including while driving or working.
High humidity in your home could affect your health in other ways. It could cause your body temperature to rise – especially if you do not have a good air conditioning system or a dehumidifier. When your body overheats, you are more susceptible to heart attacks, high blood pressure, and breathing difficulties.
High humidity can also lead to the growth of mold, mildew, fungi, and bacteria which can be dangerous for people with asthma or allergies. In addition, for people with certain diseases like asthma or COPD, the presence of these microorganisms in the air can lead to difficulty breathing and can also exacerbate symptoms.
On the other hand, a humidity level that is too low promotes viral transmission, which is partly why winter notoriously is cold and flu season.
Humidity Affects Homes
Humidity also could affect the structural elements and even some of the decorative elements of your home, which in turn could affect your health. High levels of humidity promote moisture and condensation. Water pipes especially might cause condensation that drips onto the floor or accumulates inside of walls. This water can create a puddle that could eventually saturate structural elements of your home, including the walls and support structures.
High humidity in your home can also affect electrical connections and outlets and even cause damage to your walls, wallpaper, paint, wood elements, and even your siding. It can also cause mold, mildew, fungi, and bacteria to develop – especially in darkened spaces like your crawl space or basement. It can also grow rapidly on indoor surfaces when the humidity levels are too high for too long.
How Do I Prevent High Humidity in My Home?
A dehumidifier is one of the best ways to prevent high humidity in your home as well as low humidity. It makes controlling the humidity easier.
In addition, wrapping water pipes with insulation and taking other steps to mitigate high humidity inside your home can also help.
If your home is less comfortable on humid days, you could schedule a qualified HVAC technician to inspect your system and determine the best way to restore comfort and structural integrity for your home.