Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. It is measured by a hygrometer, and the measurement is given in a percentage. Optimal humidity levels should read between 30-50%. Without a hygrometer, you can gauge the relative humidity in your home through a couple of simple observations. Notice dry air by setting a glass of ice water on the table and observing what happens to the glass. If in a few minutes you do not see water droplets forming on the outside of the glass, your air is dry. Notice high humidity levels by observing condensation on your windows.
Dangers of Fluctuating Humidity
When the amount of moisture in the air fluctuates, as will tend to happen when the seasons change between summer and winter, your home can suffer. Wood will expand and contract based on both the temperature and humidity levels, and thus your furniture, wood doors, hardwood flooring, and even your windows can show the stress of these fluctuations over time. Doors may not fit squarely in their jambs anymore and hardwood flooring may begin to show gaps between the joints. Wood furniture may become increasingly unsteady as the swelling and shrinking of the wood loosens the nails and breaks the glue free, and windows may not seal as well, letting in cold air during the wintertime.
High Humidity Breeds Mold
If your home tends to have chronic high humidity levels, you have the perfect breeding ground for mold. Since mold does not require light to grow and thrive, all you need is excess moisture, and mold spores that are naturally occurring in the air can take up residence. Excess mold growth can cause a number of health issues, including respiratory illnesses such as asthma.
You may notice the effect of high humidity on mold growth in your bathroom as the steam from your showers allows discoloration on the ceiling. To inhibit the growth of mold, be sure to vent your bathroom to allow the humidity to dissipate, and use a vinegar-based cleaner to kill the mold spores.
Allowing the humidity levels in your home to remain high means allowing mold a chance to take up residence in your walls where you cannot easily see it to get rid of it. Mold remediation can cost a lot of money, so prevention is your best solution.
Low Humidity Dangers
While mold may not be an issue in a low humidity situation, if you allow the humidity levels to drop too low, you may run into new problems. A large drop in the amount of moisture in the air is what causes wood to shrink, potentially damaging your furniture, hardwood floors, and windows as discussed already. It also provides a perfect opportunity for static electricity to build up, making you vulnerable to a potential electric shock. The low levels of humidity can also cause respiratory problems to those prone to breathing issues.
In order to maintain optimal humidity levels in your home, we recommend that you use a humidifier during the cold, dry winter months, and a dehumidifier during the hot summer months. A humidifier basically adds moisture to the air while a dehumidifier removes moisture. For more information on how to manage the humidity in your home, contact us to receive local heating and cooling services in Minneapolis.