How to Control Indoor Humidity | Ideal Humidity Levels
With the NJ summer weather, comes high humidity, causing the air to feel heavy and mucky. This not only creates problems for human health and comfort by aggravating allergies and other respiratory issues but also causes damage to our homes and buildings.
In order to prevent the damage associated with high indoor humidity – mold, warped wood, respiratory problems – you will want to reduce the humidity level in your home.
The best way to prevent moisture problems from developing in the first place is to be mindful of water spills and leaks in the home and be proactive about repairs and cleanups. If you constantly have water in the basement when it rains, ask us about our basement waterproofing solutions.
On the other end of the spectrum, low humidity can create the impression of a colder room, raising your utility bill. Ideal humidity in the home should be about 45 percent, or at least fall between 30 and 60. If you live in an area that experiences extreme, prolonged winters it might be wise to invest in a whole-house humidifier.
Tips for Maintaining Ideal Indoor Humidity
- Clean up all spills immediately and wipe down counters in kitchens and bathrooms after use. If there is a constant mold problem in your bathroom or kitchen, consider increasing ventilation with fans and windows.
- Use an inexpensive hygrometer to measure relative humidity levels inside the home and try to keep it between 30 and 50 percent. Anything higher than 55% relative humidity is uncomfortable and can cause deleterious effects to your home.
- Inspect and clean gutters and downspouts every 3 months or so. Consider investing in downspout extenders to direct water away from the home. Click here for more tips for keeping water out of your basement.
- Make sure your air conditioning drain pans are in good working order and that the drain line is clear. A good way to keep the drain line clear of algae and other obstructions is to periodically pour about a half cup of white vinegar down, topped off with a little warm water. If there is a big clog, you will need to use a wet-dry vac or call your local HVAC contractor to clear it out for you. Learn more about air conditioning maintenance here.
- Condensation on windows, HVAC systems, pipes, and walls are clear symptoms of high humidity. Dry the surfaces as soon as you can and try to locate the source.
- Make sure your appliances, like HVAC systems, clothes dryers, and stoves are venting outdoors properly. Combustion appliances produce vapor that needs to be vented outdoors. During your next HVAC tune-up, make sure your technician verifies proper ventilation.
- Consider investing in a whole-home humidification system. These built-in humidifiers and dehumidifiers will measure the relative humidity in your home for you and add or take away moisture in order to meet the desired humidity level. Since they are connected to your plumbing and drainage system, there is no need to add or take away water. It’s all done for you.
- If you don't have whole-home humidification, purchase a plug-in dehumidifier for the areas in your home that are prone to moisture like your basement and garage. Also, running your air conditioner (or heater) will naturally lower your humidity levels.
- Whenever bathing or showering, run your exhaust fans and open windows if possible while cooking or dishwashing.
- Consider covering your cold water pipes with insulation to prevent condensation.
- Many moisture problems are related to leaks in the home. Once you have identified the source of the leak, you can usually repair it yourself with some caulk. Use weatherstripping around doors and windows and consider consulting with a professional about your home’s insulation and ventilation levels. Click here for a home air sealing guide from ENERGY STAR.
- Inspect your basement for leaks and signs of water damage. For advice on basement waterproofing, click here and here.
If your home is too dry:
- Add more houseplants to introduce some humidity and help improve indoor air quality.
- Cook more frequently indoors
- Boil pots of water
- Leave the door open while bathing or showering
- Invest in a whole-home humidification system or portable humidifier.
If you notice mold anywhere in your home, act quickly! The longer you let it grow, the more damage it will do and the more expensive it will be to remedy the situation.
If your HVAC system is contaminated with mold, call your local HVAC technician to have them take a look before you run the HVAC system again. You may need to have your air ducts cleaned and sealed as well.
Consult EPA’s guide Should You have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned? before you make the final decision.
For more information on dealing with mold and moisture, consult EPA’s Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home.
When you need a trusted home service technician, call Gold Medal Service.
We service all makes and models of HVAC systems and are experts in home moisture control. We’re available 24-hour hours a day, so if your air conditioning fails in the blistering heat, we're there for you.