You’ve probably heard the old saying: “it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.” Indeed, humidity gets a bad rap, and with good reason.
While high humidity can put a damper on your comfort and well-being, we’re here to tell you that low humidity levels are actually just as bad. Dry air can have damaging aftereffects on the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract: think itchiness, sore throats, and nosebleeds galore.
In this regard, it’s not just poor outdoor humidity that should set off warning bells in your head.
When it comes to home climate control, ideal indoor humidity rarely features in the conversation. However, it is crucial to the health of your home. Unless your indoor humidity is well-balanced, you may be in for a world of stress and heartache.
There are quite a few tell-tale signs that hint at poor indoor humidity levels. Let’s dive in.
Six Giveaway Signs that Point Towards Poor Indoor Humidity
If you’re like everybody else, you probably don’t have a sixth sense for ideal indoor humidity. However, you can still assess your home’s air quality by keeping an eye out for the following cues.
A) You’re Not Sleeping Well
Did you know that poor in-home humidity can effectively sabotage your sleep? So if you’ve been tossing and turning in bed for no apparent reason, it may be time to consider the air you’re breathing in.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, dry air can interfere with your breathing at night. On the other hand, damp air generally makes it harder to fall and stay asleep. It can also affect the time you spend in certain sleep stages.
B) You’re Constantly Sweating/Feeling Cold at Home
Nobody enjoys sweating buckets by the minute! If you’re constantly sticky at home, chances are your in-home humidity is on the higher side.
In contrast, dry air will make you feel colder, even if the thermostat is set to the proper temperature.
C) You Can’t Breathe Easy
For people with respiratory issues like asthma, excess humidity or a lack thereof can prove to be nightmarish.
- As per Healthline, breathing in humid air activates nerves in the lungs, which, in turn, tighten the airways. Humid air also traps pollutants and allergens that trigger asthma symptoms.
- Dry air depletes your mucus membranes, preventing them from trapping microbes before they infiltrate your system. Consequently, you’re more likely to catch a cold.
- To top that, low indoor humidity is also a gateway to respiratory ailments such as bronchitis and sinusitis.
D) Your Home is Riddled in Silverfish
Widely regarded as nuisance pests that contaminate everything they touch, these nocturnal insects are heavily attracted to damp conditions. A silverfish outbreak in your apartment may indicate that your indoor humidity is too high. Be sure to check your bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, garages, and cabinets for traces of silverfish.
E) You See Mold Patches
If your walls and ceilings are discolored, you may have mold growing around your home. Even if it is hidden, you may be able to smell the unmistakable musty odor of black mold growing.
Since mold and mildew thrive in excess humidity, we suggest you take immediate action to regulate your indoor humidity levels.
F) You Feel Electrostatic Discharge (ESD)
Environments with low relative humidity often experience electrostatic discharge (ESD). This can be as harmless as feeling a brief shock when you touch a doorknob. But in severe cases, ESD can fry computers and electronics.
So, what’s the big deal about ideal indoor humidity?
Why should homeowners take active measures to control their in-home humidity levels?
To answer this, let’s look at the major downsides of both high and low humidity.
The Negative Effects of Unduly High or Low Indoor Humidity
1. High Indoor Humidity
As mentioned, humidity is dangerous at both ends of the scale. On the upper extreme, it can lead to a ton of problems.
A) Physical Discomfort
Few things are as disconcerting as sitting in a closed-off, unventilated room when temperatures are rising. Add excess humidity to the mix, and you have yourself a recipe for disaster. It is pretty hard to wind down and relax if your home feels like a greenhouse inside.
B) Bacterial Growth
Does your family fall sick frequently in the summer? Believe it or not, your indoor humidity may be to blame. High humidity makes it easier for bacteria, dust mites, and fungus to reproduce. This can pose a serious threat to people with allergies, asthma, and similar upper-respiratory diseases.
C) Furniture Damage
Overly humid hair promotes mold and mildew growth, both of which are notorious for destroying household furnishings. Apart from this, damp air also causes wood to rot. Unless you’re careful, you may have to dole out quite a lot of money for repairs.
2. Low Indoor Humidity
That said, dry air is not particularly pleasant either. Here are a few problems commonly associated with low indoor humidity.
A) Irritated Sinuses and Dry Throat
With seasons changing and the water vapor in the air taking a nosedive, you may feel your throat itching unceremoniously at times. Usually, this is because the mucus membrane lining your respiratory tract is dehydrated, courtesy of low indoor humidity.
B) Dry Skin and Eye Discomfort
Extremely low humidity can also stir up multiple skin troubles in the long run, including dryness, cracks, and scaliness. Plus, your eyes may hurt from drying out too often.
C) Shrinkage and Cracks in Wood
Most wooden décor pieces contain some amount of water in their composition. However, when exposed to low-humid environments, they often lose their moisture content, shrinking and cracking before their time.
With so much talk about high and low indoor humidity, you’re probably wondering if there’s a sweet spot. Sure, there is! Let’s find out what’s generally thought of as ideal indoor humidity.
What Are Ideal Indoor Humidity Levels?
From a scientific point of view, ideal indoor humidity levels should hover between 30% and 50%. This range promotes comfort, health, and optimal air quality. Anything below 30% is considered critically low humidity. On the flipside, humidity levels above 60% qualify as high.
However, the perfect home humidity isn’t always easy to pinpoint. More often than not, it relies on external weather conditions and personal preferences. For example, when temperatures rise outside, you will want to lower your home humidity settings to beat the heat. Similarly, cold, dry weather calls for higher indoor humidity.
Additionally, in-home humidity levels can vary based on how active you are and the number of people in your home. But as long as you stick to the ideal indoor humidity range, you should be golden.
How Do You Fix Poor Indoor Humidity?
Now that you’ve discovered ideal indoor humidity, you’ll want things fixed stat. As mentioned, poor humidity levels can generate several problems. And, while you cannot change the weather outside, you have complete control over the humidity inside your home.
Here are a few ways you can hit ideal indoor humidity levels and improve your home’s air quality.
A) Steps to Take for High Indoor Humidity Levels
To adjust high indoor humidity levels, you can:
A dehumidifier pulls moisture from your surroundings, depositing the water in a detachable tank. As far as working principles are concerned, it’s quite similar to an air conditioning unit. Only a dehumidifier will not blow cold air into your room.
- Limit Hot Showers
Many homeowners swear by long, hot showers. However, the truth is that they introduce a ton of water vapor to the air. This can easily increase your in-home humidity to an uncomfortable extent, especially if you’re already facing damp weather.
Instead, try lowering your shower’s temperature by a few degrees. Cold showers produce less steam, hence adding less moisture to the air.
- Install an Exhaust Fan in Your Bathroom and Kitchen
Because cooking and showering produce a lot of water vapor, you can invest in an exhaust fan to maintain ideal indoor humidity. Run the fan during showers or food prep sessions to keep the steam from settling and raising your in-home humidity.
- Seal Concrete Surfaces
Another tip is to waterproof any concrete walls and ceilings. Improperly sealed concrete surfaces also allow moisture to seep into your home.
B) Steps to Take for Low Indoor Humidity Levels
You can counter dryness in your home just as effectively, simply by:
- Adding a Few Houseplants to Your Décor
Besides working wonders for your home interiors, indoor plants can also help purify the air and attain ideal indoor humidity. You can choose tropical plants with large leaves, along with plants that flourish in dry conditions. Palms, philodendrons, and Chinese evergreens are most suited to humidity control.
- Air Dry Your Laundry
Give your dryer a break in winter and hang your laundry inside the home. Not only will this reduce energy costs, but it also improves your in-home humidity levels.
- Steer Clear of Lids While Cooking
Using your stovetop to cook and boil liquids is a nifty way of increasing your indoor humidity. In this regard, don’t add lids to your pans: let the steam discharge directly into the air.
No matter where you live, poor home humidity can kill your comfort in moments. However, you don’t have to languish indefinitely. Now that you know the warning signs of poor indoor humidity, you’ll be able to take action with ease. Use any of the steps mentioned above to get your home humidity up to par!
Fight back moisture buildup in your home with GreenWorks! Our certified experts can help you maintain ideal indoor humidity and tackle dampness at its root. For more information, give us a call today!