Too much of anything is a bad thing and although we need humidity to feel comfortable and even boost our health, too much humidity provides the exact opposite!
Moisture is a silent killer of all things electronics and is the number tool used by mold to grow and reproduce.
With mold on the walls and a thin film of moisture all over your things, many people are left constantly asking themselves the question why is my house so humid.
To answer this question, we’ll need to understand the causes of excess humidity and how it’s affecting our homes.
What's in this Guide?
It’s important to note that although this problem is widespread and affects millions of people, the causes may differ and the remedies aren’t a one-stop solution for everyone. You may have to conduct a little trial and error before you find out what works best for you. We have readers from all around the world who’s climate and environment range widely and the solution will highly depend on your specific circumstances.
The key to success in dealing with just about any problems you ever face in life is first defining the key aspect of such problems. In this case, we need to understand humidity before we attempt to create a plan on how to deal with it.
The very definition of humidity is actually a measurement and stands to inform us about how much water is inside the air. Air that contains water is called water vapor (water vapour depending on which type of English you use).
Water vapor is generally invisible to the human eye unless the water content is abnormally high and the temperatures of the air allow the water to hang in the balance between gas and physical form.
Ever wonder why you can see your breath when its cold outside but not when it’s warm? That’s because even at a constant ratio of water to air, the water becomes denser and saturates the air at a higher rate as the air becomes lower in temperature. This is due to the fact that air requires less water to saturate it at lower temperatures. For example, at 32°C is may require 30 grams of water to saturate but the same air at 10°C may only require 9 grams of water to saturate.
Ways to measure humidity
Absolute humidity: A measurement of water content in the air that is expressed as grams per cubic meter or grams per kilogram.
Relative humidity: This is what you see when consulting the weatherman or your weather app. This measurement breaks down the water to air ratio and expresses it as a percentage comparable to the maximum humidity possible at that specific temperature.
Since this blog is focused on improving our home and living spaces, you probably want to know what level of humidity is ideal. Although this answer does vary based on personal opinion, I think it’s safe to say that the most comfortable levels of humidity are between 30% and 50%.
Why Having a Healthy Balance of Moisture is Important
Before we talk about how to get rid of it, we’ll need to figure out why spending time, effort, and possibly our hard earned cash to get rid of it is necessary. We also need to discuss the negatives on the other side of the spectrum: having too low of humidity. If you suffer from humidity being too high, it may be appealing to try and completely remove it from your home, but a healthy balance in humidity is actually what we’re shooting for to achieve the best home environment.
The most obvious and probably the most pressing matter regarding humidity is our health. We all want to live long happy lives and we don’t expect what’s inside our homes to be slowly killing us! Not all humidity is bad, though. Low humidity causes an abundance of negative health effects just like high humidity does.
High humidity can cause extreme discomforts such as musty smells, clammy air, reducing the body’s ability to expel heat, making it feel much hotter than it really is, difficulty breathing or exercising, etc. Humidity also makes your home the perfect host to mold and bugs which contain a ton of health concerns on their own.
Negative health effects from low humidity include dry skin, hair damage, throat and nose irritations, chapped lips, inflammation and drying of the mucous membranes (found in the throat and nose), and many other minor effects.
Your home suffers from humidity both low and high as well. Too low of humidity will cause wood to dry out and crack, hardwood floors to separate and warp, wallpaper starts to crack and peel, and a myriad of other damages to just about everything in your home.
Humidity levels being too high in your home can cause wet stains on the walls and ceilings, extreme mold growth particularly in the kitchen and bathroom, an increase in odors, wood rot, structural damage, and invite bugs into the house.
Speaking of bugs, there are bugs that like high humidity and low humidity, so if pest control is at the forefront of your mission, a perfect balance of humidity is what you should aim for.
Where Does Excess Humidity Inside the Home Come From?
You and your pets: You personally breathe out air in every single breath. Sit inches away from a window and constantly breath on it. After a while, if the air is extremely dry, you should notice water start to accumulate on the window. Although there’s little you can do to alleviate this, as your only option is to stop breathing and that’s probably not a good idea, the water you put into the air does make a difference and most certainly raises the humidity level in small rooms that aren’t well ventilated. Your pets and anything else alive in your home has the same effect.
Here Are the Three Main Three Reasons Your Home is So Humid
Climate is probably the most obvious playmaker in the humidity game. If it’s really humid outside, it’s probably going to be extremely humid in your home as well. Even if you close all the doors and windows, the air still seeps into your home and carries in all that extra water vapor with it.
Your humidity problems may be coming from the soil under your home. We’re all familiar with condensation and that factor applies to more than just your water bottle. Water can come up from the ground and enter your home through the walls and floors of your basement and foundation.
3. Showers and Appliances
If you’re like me and you enjoy your long hot showers for whatever reason, then you are well aware of the fact that your shower is causing major increases in the water found in your home’s air. That excess humidity can linger in your home for several days and since you probably shower at least once a day, that means you are increasing the level of humidity greatly on a daily basis.Aside from showering, tons of other appliances also attribute to high humidity levels. Washers, dryers, dishwashers, cooking appliances, etc can all pump water straight into the air and onto everything else in the house.
4. Others and How To Remedy Humidity
As you can see, there are likely many problems attributing to your humidity problems. It would be hard to provide a “one size fits all” method to ending humidity inhumanity, but we can try to discuss a few methods and I think you’ll realize that fixing this issue is easier than you thought!
First and foremost, lets make sure we’re covering water coming into the home. We talked earlier about water coming in through the basement. That can happen through simple condensation or you could have a leak. If you have major water issues in the lower portions of your home, you need to consult with a professional. If you have minor water issues, you may have options.
Although you can’t sap the water out of the ground before it enters your home, you can try and use a sump pump to clear out the water that accumulates in your basement. This will play a major role in how humid your basement is and help to alleviate humid air from passing into the rest of your home. Sump pumps are also legally required in millions of homes so make sure your home is up to code!
Now that you’ve got your basement water issues taken care of, what else can you do? Not much. You can’t stop breathing, so you’re always going to be bringing in water and putting it into the air around you and you probably wouldn’t want to cut out showers or using appliances either as you need to cook and clean on a daily basis. Hmmmm… if only there was a piece of technology that could help us…
WAIT! THERE IS! Dehumidifiers are cheap and easily found all over the great world wide web. These little machines can run day and night and are proven to suck the water right out of the air, and no, they don’t care how much you shower! The fancy ones also have humidity level indicators and the even fancier ones can be set to achieve specific humidity levels, giving you total control over your home’s environment.
If your humidity levels are just a wee bit too high, you can try to run the air conditioning unit for a few additional minutes a day. AC units aren’t specifically designed to decrease humidity but they do pull water out of the air as a byproduct of their processes. On the flip side, if you notice that the air is insanely dry, maybe try cutting down on your usage of AC units.
We spoke about showers being a contributor to high humidity levels. Please, don’t stop showering. What you can do, though, is take colder showers. You’ll notice immediately how much less water remains in the air when you turn down the temperature of the water and hey, it’ll save you some money and may even contain other health benefits as well!
Cook a lot? Have lots of mouths to feed? Hate going out for food? That’s alright, me too. Unfortunately, all food contains water and when you’re cooking that food, the water is evaporated and… you guessed it, added into the air as additional humidity.
Simply put, there is no way to cook food without releasing at least some water, however, you can try cooking at lower temperatures and/or covering the pans. Covering what you cook, especially when boiling anything, will result in immediate visual satisfaction as you can see the water accumulate on the lid. Simply dump that water into the sink and you’ll be keeping it from entering your home’s environment!
Have a window next to where you cook? Good! Open it up, even if it’s cold outside while cooking and you’ll be able to see that darned water vapor flow right out of your home. If you don’t have a window accessible to your cooking station, you can install a ventilation system over your oven which essentially pulls the water vapor (and the smoke if you burn stuff) right up and throws it outside.
Do you use a washer and dryer to clean your clothes? If so, you’re adding tons of water into the air with each load. If its not cold outside, you can try hanging your clothes up to dry outside, ensuring that water vapor stays out of the house and hey, you’ll save some money on your electric bill too. Aside from that, you can vent your dryer to the outside world. If you aren’t super handy yourself, I’d recommend asking a professional to install a dryer ventilation system.
As the last tidbit of humidity defense, ventilation is probably going to be your best friend. If it feels insanely more humid inside your home then outside, it’s time to open up some windows and get the air flowing. I for one always used to like closing my bathroom door so my cat doesn’t destroy my toilet paper, but in doing so, I trap all that wet air inside after a shower. Since I prefer destroyed toilet paper over mold growing on everything, I am now leaving the door open and taking that gamble! Needless to say, my bathroom mold problems have decreased by around 90%.
Buying a few fans and keeping a few doors open may go a long way in helping you reduce humidity. Water in the air naturally likes to spread out and is especially attracted to dry air so introduce them and let nature take its course!