Summer fun means summer humidity

As the days grow longer, it’s the humidity rather than the heat that can become problematic. Moisture in your home can disturb your sleep while exacerbating allergies and structural damage. Since warm air contains more water than cool air, the warmer months can often be the wetter months.

How Humid Should My Home Be?

Experts recommend that a home should never exceed 60% relative humidity, with a goal within 30-50%. Above 50%, studies have shown an increase in mould growth and bacteria. While dehumidifiers will read the moisture levels in a particular room, a hygrometer will monitor it throughout your home. These devices are available in hardware stores.

Homes near lakes have higher humidity levels

Some characteristics of your space may raise humidity levels in minimal, acceptable ways, such as potted plant life. Even breathing can raise humidity levels in your home! The more occupants a home has, the bigger the challenge will be of maintaining comfort levels. It’s also affected by geographic location: warmer, tropical climates are more humid. Any home near abundant surface water will have a higher humidity level, thanks to the evaporation process. Regions with higher rainfall are also more problematic in this regard.

If you’re fortunate enough to be equipped with central air conditioning or a heat recovery ventilator, you’ll be off to a great start (provided you have these systems serviced regularly). However, there are additional steps you can take when things heat up, all of which will be especially valuable to homeowners without air conditioning.

Key Ways to Reduce Humidity

With humidity, some seasonal risk factors are unavoidable; luckily, a few simple actions go a long way towards keeping you cool and comfortable this summer. Follow these essential steps if you want to improve comfort by preventing excess moisture.

  • Use kitchen and bathroom vents – The kitchen and bathroom areas are naturally more humid, due to the presence of steam and elevated heat levels. If there’s an issue with your bathroom vents, the first indication is likely to be a musty smell or foul air lingering in the room. Unpleasant odours (and dust) from a clogged bathroom vent can make their way into other parts of your home. In the kitchen, a boiling kettle or bubbling soup pot are common causes of humidity.

As with your air exchange system, vents should be professionally cleaned regularly. Keeping them free of blockages will increase airflow while saving on hydro costs since a malfunctioning system requires more energy. Lastly, remember to turn your vents on. When the shower or stove is in use, it’s vital that hot, wet air be removed from the area. No vent can do its job if it’s not correctly utilized.

Simply opening a window can make a difference

  • Open the windows – If you have an efficient air exchange system, you may choose to keep windows closed, preventing moisture from making its way into the home. However, in particularly damp rooms (e.g. the bathroom and kitchen), opening a window can prevent humidity buildup while increasing comfort. If you suspect that your ventilation system is not functioning at its full potential, opening windows is an essential step while you await help from a professional cleaning service. Make sure you leave windows open for at least half an hour after a hot shower.
  • Wipe down shower walls – After a bath or shower, wiping the water off shower tiles will help prevent excess moisture being absorbed by the air. Use a squeegee to give walls a quick wipe-down, directing droplets towards the drain. If you notice beaded water remaining on your bathroom walls or shower tiles even after a wipe-down, this signifies a ventilation issue.

Whenever possible, dry clothes outside

  • Avoid air-drying clothes inside – Wonder why your clothes are taking forever to hang-dry? It may be because the air in their vicinity cannot carry any more moisture. As clothes dry, water is released into the air. To exacerbate the problem, drying racks are often located in basement areas or laundry rooms, which tend to be moist. In this case, water will probably show up as condensation on walls and windows.

When possible, air-dry clothes outside. If you don’t have an accessible outdoor area, at the very least position drying racks in easily ventilated areas, or beside an open window with consistent airflow.

  • Repair leaks – A dripping tap or loose pipe can make existing humidity problems worse. Check under sinks and around pipe openings for any signs of moisture. Be sure to inspect your basement as well, and keep in mind that uninsulated pipes are more likely to raise humidity levels.

If rain finds its way through your roof, wood and plaster will absorb water, and the air in your home will take on moisture. Regular inspection and diligent maintenance go a long way towards preventing problems. Heading off humidity before it gets out of control will save you money while reducing stress for your family.

Dehumidifiers increase comfort levels

Use a dehumidifier – There are several types of dehumidifier on the market, in a variety of unit sizes. Which one you select depends on how quiet you need it to be, how large your space is, whether the machine needs to be portable, and whether you need year-round dehumidification. Consult with an expert to select the right unit for your area.

For ultimate comfort (or especially humid climates), a central humidification system will reliably manage moisture levels year-round. While installing this kind of system may initially seem less cost-efficient, you will save money down the road by avoiding damage and complications from excess moisture.

Common Humidity-Related Problems

If optimal moisture levels are exceeded, it’s not only personal comfort that will be compromised. Excess humidity, if not dealt with, can do lasting damage to your home as well.

  • Damage to other surfaces – Having too much moisture in your home can lead to costly repairs. In the kitchen area, peeling paint and warped cupboards are an obvious sign of humidity damage. Wallpaper may fall away, plaster can crumble, and unsightly moisture stains could appear. Over time, hardwood floors will shift and warp, ultimately cracking drywall. Moisture can even damage exterior mortar and cause metal fastenings to rust.
  • Mildew and mould – Bathroom tiles, shower curtains, bath mats: all these are susceptible to mould growth in a humid room. Wet towels can become mildewed if left to hang without air. Mould is a serious problem for anyone with a compromised respiratory system, but some moulds can pose a threat to even the healthiest individuals. Mould is costly and time-consuming to eradicate.
  • Fungus – This can lead to “sick building syndrome,” which occurs when fungi grow in moist wood. Any humid environment is hospitable to a variety of microorganisms.
  • Allergies – Dust mites are a common allergen, and they’re more numerous in homes with high humidity levels. Studies also show that increased humidity worsens the symptoms of sleep apnea.
  • Asthma – An asthma attack can be triggered by mould, dust mites, or bacteria, all of which thrive in humid environments. Also, a home that is not adequately ventilated will be more prone to the buildup of carbon dioxide — another trigger for asthmatics.

Embrace summer sun, not summer humidity

Out-of-control humidity is detrimental to your home and your health. No matter what your current system is, small changes in your daily habits will help you sleep better, knowing you’ve got humidity under control.

If you have questions about how expert cleaning services can improve ventilation, call Dr Duct at (613) 845-0707. At Dr Duct, we work with residents of the Ottawa area to make sure that summer heat and humidity don’t get in the way of summer fun.