How Much Humidity Should Be in Your House?

The relative humidity in your house at any point can affect the level of comfort you’ll enjoy. If the levels are too high or too low, your heating and cooling systems may not work optimally, and health problems may arise. So how much humidity should you allow in your house?

Experts recommend humidity levels that are between 30% to 50%. In the summer, your home will feel comfortable with humidity levels of 30% to 45%. In the winter, you need to keep it lower than 40%. Ultimately, when it comes to how much humidity should be in your house, many people have personal preferences.

The rest of the article will explain what humidity in a home means and what happens when it is too high or too low. You’ll also learn how to manage high or low humidity at all times.

What Is Relative Humidity?

Relative humidity refers to the quantity of water vapor present in the air at any given point. It is expected as a percentage of the amount needed for saturation under the existing temperatures. The value will go up or down, depending on the temperature and other environmental factors. The 30-50% range is regarded as ideal for any inhabited space.

How to Measure Humidity in Your House

There are two tell-tale signs of high or low humidity indoors. Increased static electricity and cracking paint show low humidity, while fogging, condensation, and mold formations are excellent pointers of high humidity.

To be sure about your humidity levels, however, you need to use a hygrometer. You can go with a no-frills option like the Cigar Oasis Caliber IV or an option that hooks up to your smartphone like the Govee Wireless.

What Are the Dangers of High Indoor Humidity?

The excess moisture in the air in a high humidity environment poses several problems, including the following:

Growth of Microorganisms and Contaminants

Excess moisture in your house encourages the growth and spread of bacteria, fungi, mold, viruses, and mildew. Dust mites also thrive when indoor humidity is higher than 70%.

These organisms and contaminants can cause damage to your home and also negatively affect the indoor air quality. When you breathe in poor-quality air long enough, you could develop respiratory illnesses.

More Frequent Allergic Reactions

Since high indoor humidity encourages contaminants, allergy sufferers and people with conditions like asthma will experience more episodes.

Allergic rhinitis is another major allergic reaction to high humidity levels indoors. It causes wheezing, coughing, watery eyes, and more.

An Uncomfortably Clammy Indoor Environment

High humidity indoors will cause your home to feel clammy and uncomfortable. You’ll end up using the air conditioner at a lower temperature in an attempt to cool down the room, but this will only increase your energy bills unnecessarily because adjusting your humidity levels will get rid of this problem.

What Are the Dangers of Low Indoor Humidity?

Low relative humidity indoors can lead to several problems, including the following:

Worsening of Allergy Symptoms and Development of Other Health Problems

Low humidity indoors can cause asthma and allergy symptoms to worsen. You may also be more susceptible to sinus infections. Cold and flu viruses also thrive in this environment.

Other health problems you might experience include chapped lips and dry air passageways.

Colder Body Temperature

In low humidity environments, your body might feel colder even when you are warm indoor temperature. As the dry air removes moisture from your skin, it will leave you feeling colder, and to deal with this, you will turn up the heat in your home.

Of course, this leads to unnecessarily wasted energy, as just increasing the humidity in the air would have been enough.

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Damage to Your Home Décor

The lack of adequate moisture in the air can lead to cracks in your flooring and your window and door frames. Leather furniture may also become warped.

If you’ve hung some hand-painted artwork, you may find the materials looking weaker as well.

How to Deal With Low Humidity Levels Indoors

If you start to see all the signs of low humidity in your home, you can remedy the situation with the following solutions:

Trigger Evaporation Artificially

To add some moisture to the air, all you need to do in most cases is to place a container of water close to your heating system. As the heat goes over the water, it will cause evaporation that will linger in the room for a while.

An alternative is to hang wet towels in the room to dry. You can replicate these options easily, but you’ll need to manually refill the container or bring in more damp towels once the humidity starts going down again.

Use a Portable Humidifier

Portable humidifiers are designed to add moisture to a room automatically. You can carry them around, and you can place them on any surface. A humidifier comes with a reservoir that holds water, which has to be refilled from time to time.

There are two types of portable humidifiers: warm mist and cool mist humidifiers. You’ve probably guessed that the former has a mechanism for releasing warm water into the atmosphere while the latter cools down the water first. However, if you have proper heating in your home, a warm mist humidifier isn’t attractive.

Some portable humidifier options you can go with include the MADETEC Ultrasonic and Elechomes UM0001.

Install a Whole-House Humidifier

Whole-house humidifiers are installed in your home’s furnace. This ensures that moisture is spread evenly across your house through the duct system. This option is expensive, as you’ll need a cold water connection to the humidifier as well as the space to install the unit.

Some whole-house humidifier options include Aprilaire 700 and Honeywell HE360A. When combined with a Manual Humidistat, you have a setup that guarantees the highest level of consistent humidity.

How to Deal With High Humidity Levels Indoors

If you feel the humidity levels indoors are too high, you can do a few things. They include the following:

Turn Down Your Humidifier

If you installed a whole-house humidifier, it might be adding too much moisture to the air in your home. Regulate it better by turning down the humidistat. For portable humidifiers, you can turn them off completely.

Get a Dehumidifier

Just as a humidifier adds moisture to the environment, a dehumidifier reduces moisture in the air. They run quietly in the background and are a good addition to the home during the summer months. Some examples of dehumidifiers you can use in your home include the Pro Breeze Electric Mini and the Vremi 4,500.

Use Exhaust Fans

If you have exhaust fans, use them while cooking or bathing. They will cycle out the high humidity air and bring in fresh drier air. If you don’t have exhaust fans, opening the doors and windows after bathing and cooking could be enough.

However, this approach will only work when you are sure that the air outside is fresher and drier. To avoid increasing the humidity levels in your home while cooking or bathing, make sure you cover your pots and take cooler showers where possible.

Conclusion

The level of humidity in your house isn’t something to be ignored. Apart from the increased discomfort that comes with the wrong humidity level, it can also trigger a raft of health problems.

Install a hygrometer in your home to ensure the humidity level is between the recommended 30-50%. If you notice that you are recording readings well outside this range during the summer or winter, use any of the suggested solutions above to remedy the situation.

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.

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