Maintaining ideal temperature and humidity levels inside your home is crucial to your health and happiness. Not only does humidity affect your quality of life, it also affects the quality of your air and your general state of health and well-being. The term”relative humidity” is often used in this context, and refers to the ratio of water vapour relative to the air temperature.
We often use the term “humidity” when we want to measure the moisture content of the air, and this is usually expressed independently of any temperature measurement. Relative humidity is a similar concept, but it measures water vapour relative to the temperature. In a sense, the “relative” nature of this measurement changes over time to reflect the maximum amount of water the air can hold at any given temperature.
A relative humidity reading of 100% means the air is absolutely saturated of water, and will feel close and sticky. In contrast, a 10% relative humidity reading will feel too dry, and be equally uncomfortable. Creating and maintaining the ideal relative humidity is an important part of your everyday comfort and health.
Common Signs of High Relative Humidity
High relative humidity levels exist for many reasons, some of which are independent of the surrounding weather conditions. Poor ventilation often leads to high humidity, as does a lack of connection between indoor and outdoor living spaces.Humidity is often higher in the laundry, kitchen, bathroom, or anywhere else with excessive heat. Too much relative humidity often leads to mould growth and poor air quality, with the following common signs pointing towards a moisture problem:
- Condensation on windows
- Mould growth on surfaces
- A musty odour
- Moisture stains on surfaces
- Wood rot on walls and surfaces
- Paint peeling and blistering
- Wood floors cupping or in poor health
Sources of High Relative Humidity
- Kitchen – The heart of your home, and also the source of lots of unwanted humidity. Installing an oven vent that connects to the outside can help, with electric stove tops also known to produce less moisture than gas cooking.
- Laundry – Your washing machine and dryer have a huge effect on humidity, especially if you don’t have adequate ventilation. Warm and humid air often build up over time in laundry rooms and produces unhealthy mould growth.
- Basement and garage – Damp basements, garages, and similar areas can influence humidity around your home. A dehumidifier can be used to good effect in these areas, with ventilation, waterproofing, and insulation also likely to help.
- Heating and cooling – Heating and cooling systems can contribute greatly to relative humidity, especially if they are old, malfunctioning, or not designed for the right climate. When you use heating or cooling, it’s important to give it a break sometimes and let the fresh air in.
- Bathroom – Bathrooms are an obvious source of moisture, so you need to deal with these spaces properly. Installing a fan is necessary to reduce the amount of hot and humid air, with ventilation systems, regular cleaning, and open windows also doing the world of good.
Solutions to High Relative Humidity
There are lots of practical ways you can reduce the amount of relative humidity in your home. The following tips are a great place to start:
- Sealing – Sealing gaps and cracks is a great way to make your home air tight. While you also need to ventilate, sealing helps you to manage the process.
- Ventilation – Healthy air flow is the most effective and easiest way to deal with excessive moisture and mould. Installing fans in your kitchen or bathroom can make the world of difference.
- Insulation – Adequate professional insulation will help to reduce your relative humidity, lower your energy bills, and increase comfort levels inside your home.
- Vapour barriers – Vapour barriers include polythene sheeting, reflective foil, and water-resistant painted surfaces among other materials. This thin skin is wrapped around the exterior of your home to stop moisture from entering.
- Dehumidifier – A dehumidifier can be a great short-term or emergency solution for high moisture areas or homes with existing mould problems.
- Temperature control – Controlling your internal temperature is one of the best ways to prevent unwanted moisture, eliminate mould from your home, and reduce your energy bills along the way.
Health Effects of High Relative Humidity
High moisture levels can affect your indoor air quality, quality of life, and overall health. High humidity and mould spores are known to affect the respiratory system, and can also lead to dust mite infestations, bacteria, and viruses. Low relative humidity can also be a problem, with dry air known to spread respiratory infections, allergies, and asthma, along with dry skin and eyes.
Psychrometric Charts for Humidity
A psychrometric chart records your indoor air humidity throughout the day and year, before offering clear and accurate solutions based on the available evidence. This solution is much more advanced than a DIY mould test.
Humidity levels should be managed according to the season. The international ASHRAE Standard 62-2001 sets the following guidelines:
- Winter – Relative humidity levels between 30-40% are ideal, along with temperatures between 19-23 degrees Celsius. Never exceed 45% in winter.
- Summer – Relative humidity levels between 50-55% are ideal, along with temperatures between 23-26 degrees Celsius.
Awareness is the key in order to create ideal conditions for your home. If any problems do develop, including condensation, property damage, or mould growth, please give us a call and let us know how we can help.
If you want to protect your home and family, please contact IECL today to speak with one of our friendly technicians.