High or low humidity levels in your home affect not only your health but also the structure of your home. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends indoor humidity levels between 30 percent to 50 percent. Monitoring indoor humidity levels is critical to maintaining healthy indoor air quality and preserving the structure of your home. Let’s explore three ways humidity affects the structure of the home.
Mold and Mildew Growth
High humidity levels lead to excess moisture, which opens the door to mold and mildew growth, especially in hard to dry areas like cracks. Humidity can also find its way into the pores and poorly sealed joints of the house and breed an atmosphere for mold and mildew. When that happens, mold and mildew make its way into the foundation and eventually spread through the walls, comprising the home’s structure.Photo via Flickr
Also, mold and mildew inside your home are not good for your health. Mold and mildew can lead to health issues such as skin and eye irritation and more severe problems for those who have asthma or other respiratory conditions.
HVAC System Malfunction
Temperature affects how much humidity is in the air, but humidity also affects temperature. For example, in the winter, humidity can make the home more comfortable because humid air holds heat better than dry air. Therefore, during winter, appropriate humidity levels reduce the need for your furnace to replace indoor heat. However, high humidity levels during the summer will cause your air conditioning unit to struggle to lower the temperature in your home leading to extra work and malfunction.
Extra work causes your components to work harder, which will cause them to need frequent repairs. Also, when your air conditioning unit works harder, you will see an increase in your energy bills. Evaluate your air conditioning unit to make sure it is working properly in the summer. If you are uncertain if your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is working properly, a technician can help you with repair needs.
High humidity levels lead to moisture on wooden fixtures and hardwood floors, eventually causing those areas to rot faster. High indoor humidity levels will also ruin woodwork in your house. In fact, to bend wood, all you need to do is place it near steam. Steam bending is a technique that uses steam to bend strips of wood. High humidity levels in the home do the same thing to woodwork.
Maintaining proper humidity levels in your home is the best way to protect the health and integrity of your home. In warm weather, try to maintain relative humidity levels between 35 percent to 45 percent. During the winter, you have more wiggle room; as the temperature drops below freezing, the relative humidity level can go below 30 percent.
Whole house and portable dehumidifiers can be purchased to help maintain indoor humidity levels. However, if you choose to buy a whole house dehumidifier, be sure to consult an HVAC professional for installation. An HVAC professional can also help find ways to reduce the damage of humidity on the home.