How to Combat Humidity at Home
Frizzy hair, runny makeup, difficulty sleeping, allergies, headaches, asthma symptoms, and the general feeling of ‘blech’ are all good reasons to fight off humidity – and those are just personal symptoms. In your home, humidity can cause swollen wooden doors, mold, mildew, rust, and higher energy bills. A 50% humidity level gets the craziness started, so Wilmington’s daily humidity average of 74% makes your home beg for moisture resistance. Where does humidity come from?
Humidity: Not a Simple Cause
First, let’s acknowledge the heavy contributors to humidity from inside your home:
- Cooking heats water in food and releases it as steam.
- A nice hot shower causes steam because the water temperature is hotter than the air temperature.
- Clothes dryers heat damp clothing, causing lots of steam.
Next, the home maintenance side of the issue:
- Wilmington’s humidity can squeeze through cracks in windowsills and door frames that aren’t sealed properly.
- Moisture can enter your home through leaky roofs and pipes.
- Condensation gathers on pipes that are not insulated properly.
- If your yard’s drainage system gets clogged in the fall, your yard may be waterlogged, creating humidity in your basement.
Last, the minor contributors:
- Houseplants give off of lots of moisture.
- Exercising indoors makes our bodies heat up, causing our pores to open and our home humidity levels to rise.
- Each person’s breath can contribute (more so if you have guests or a large family).
This is obviously not an exhaustive list, but it shows that combating home humidity is not necessarily a simple task.
Here are a few things that can help you keep your home healthy:
Kitchens, laundry spaces, and bathrooms are the worst culprits for humidity. Turn on bathroom fans and hood vents before you begin showering or cooking, and leave them running for a few minutes after you finish. Cover pots and pans with lids when you cook, and aim for a shorter or cooler shower. Make sure the vent on your clothes dryer is sending air outside and is thoroughly clear.
Check for Leaks
Hold your hand near windowsills and door frames to see if air is coming in. Check under the sink for leaks and condensation on pipes; if it feels a little gross under there, there might be a problem. Dangling strips of loose caulk are red flags and should be addressed right away. If the laundry area feels warmer and wetter after running the dryer, the vent should be inspected. Check the attic to make sure the roof is in good condition.
Increase Air Flow
Fans are your friends. Ceiling fans that spin counterclockwise bring cold air up from the floor and distribute it throughout the room. Any fan keeps air moving, which makes it harder for mold and mildew to grow. When the weather is right, open windows and doors to let the outside air flow freely through the house. A dehumidifier may help greatly; find one with a control sensor, not an on-and-off switch.
Humidity is best enjoyed outside, if you enjoy it at all. A certain level of indoor moisture (between 30-50 percent) is necessary for good health, but those levels should be checked regularly. Keeping your home’s humidity balanced will prevent maintenance issues and keep your home clean and healthy.