Humidity is important to our health, but when levels get out of whack, they can wreak havoc on our health and living spaces.
Low humidity levels lead to dry hair and skin, static electricity build-up, and can even cause structural damage in your home. Meanwhile, high humidity can promote mold growth, musty odors, condensation on windows, musty smells and can even result in structural rot.
Humidifiers and dehumidifiers are tools many home and property owners use to manage the levels in their homes and keep their spaces safe, and comfortable.
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Humidity levels: Too high or too low?
Daily activities such as cooking, cleaning, breathing and washing clothes all release moisture into the air – known as humidity – which can be measured using a device known as a hygrometer.
Hygrometers measure moisture levels in the air in percentage terms. While the optimal relative humidity level for homes has been debated, the consensus seems to hold that it should never go beyond the range of 30 to 60%.
Higher humidity levels provide the ideal environment for mold and mildew growth, leading to health concerns for family members as well as furniture damage and possessions being damaged by this growth.
Signs of excessive moisture include condensation on windows, musty smells coming from garages or attics and damp or clammy feelings in the house.
Low humidity is often indicated by dry itchy skin, cracked lips, and sinus irritation.
Those wanting to monitor indoor relative humidity levels can purchase an inexpensive hygrometer from home improvement stores, with information also readily available through weather apps or websites.
High humidity: Condensation on windows
If your windows are wet on the inside, that could be a tell-tale sign that humidity levels in your home are too high. Excess moisture attempts to escape towards dryer winter air and forms condensation when it hits cold surfaces, leading to blistering and peeling on window frames as well as breaking seals on dual or triple pane windows which require replacement panes.
Window condensation should never be overlooked, just like other moisture issues in your home. By taking steps to decrease excess moisture levels in your environment and prevent problems like rotted wood and mold growth, a dehumidifier can help maintain an ideal moisture level in the air – thus helping eliminate musty odors, combat mildew and mold growth, and making rooms less humid.
High humidity: Mold or mildew
A humidifier adds moisture to the air, providing relief for dry indoor air, which causes itchy skin and chapped lips, and respiratory conditions like sinusitis or scratchy throat.
Dehumidifiers draw moisture out of the air, helping combat condensation, reduce odors and limit mold and mildew growth.
A humidity meter is a simple tool that can give an accurate reading of the humidity levels in your home. If you have humidity issues in your home – if the air is too dry or too humid – consider investing in one.
Both: Sinus irritation and allergies
If you are suffering from dry air symptoms like cracked lips or nose, humidifiers could provide much-needed relief. Humidifiers provide moisture to the air, alleviating dryness in the air. If you have dry air, you may need a humidifier.
Humidity on the other hand, can also cause congestion but in a different way. Instead of dryness it can also be accompanied by dust mites and mold and mildew growth which can cause sinus irritation and respiratory conditions such as bronchitis or asthma.
Additionally, humidity can exacerbate other allergic responses from harmless allergens that stimulate our immune systems like pollen, pet dander, medications, food or insect venom which may trigger allergic responses in some people.
Dehumidification devices take in moist air, turning the water in the air into liquid and releasing the drier air back into your living space. These devices are incredibly effective ways of eliminating excess moisture in large spaces like basements, living rooms and whole houses as well as improving indoor air quality by inhibiting mold, bacteria and fungi growth.