Humidity is evaporated water in the air. As anyone who lives in Michiana knows, too much can make outdoor activities unpleasant in the summer. And extreme humidity is also be bad for our homes.
Humidity can cause woodwork to swell as it absorbs moisture from the air. When the air becomes dry again in winter, wood shrinks again. In fact, according to some estimates, a home can absorb and shed up to 4,000 pounds of water each year, collected in wood, carpet, drywall and other materials. Fluctuations in humidity accelerate this expansion and contraction process, which is not good for your home and belongings.
This repeated expansion/contraction can create gaps in doors and moldings, and can weaken furniture. Excess humidity promotes mold and mildew growth on walls, fabrics and papers. Humidity causes rot and makes paint peel. It can be problematic for those with respiratory problems, and mold spores can cause health problems for others. Luckily, there are many ways to reduce humidity in our homes.
Most people just know when it’s humid, but if you want to be more scientific about it, buy a hygrometer, which measures relative humidity. The healthy range of humidity is 30-50 percent.
Consider the Sources
Several activities produce humidity in the home, especially cooking, drying clothes, washing dishes, and bathing can cause moisture to accumulate in your home. Of these, drying clothes is the only activity that we’d recommend cutting back on by using a clothesline if practical. The others are pretty much non-negotiable.
Use an exhaust fan when the other activities are in progress. Run one in the bathroom when you shower and for about 20 minutes afterward. Turn on the range hood fan while you cook and when you do dishes – including when the dishwasher is running and right through the dry cycle.
Seal it Up
During summer, the atmosphere outside the home is loaded with moisture, and you can take steps to keep it out of your home. Double- or triple-pane windows or storm windows are a good start. Weather-strip and/or caulk around windows and doors, and seal cracks and other openings in the home’s exterior. All these steps have the added bonus of making your home warmer and more energy-efficient in the winter.
Use Tools to Dehumidify
Of course, only houses with air conditioning are going to seal things up tight to keep humidity out. But that works out fine, because air conditioners not only cool the air, they also dehumidify it.
For homes that don’t have air conditioning, a whole-house dehumidifier can be installed on your existing furnace unit to draw moisture out of the air.
For help keeping your Michiana home comfortable, contact Home Comfort Experts.