Like most people, you probably want to keep your home as comfortable as possible during the winter. One of the best ways to do this is to make sure that you control the moisture in your home. There are a few different ways to discuss this in today's blog post. Stay warm and dry!
Improve Your Home's Ventilation
Ventilating your home can help control moisture levels in the air. If the humidity outside is too high, keep your doors and windows tightly shut and use mechanical ventilation from your HVAC system to circulate air through your home.
Ensure that your bathroom, dryer, and stove hood exhaust vents are in good condition and routed to the house's exterior. These ventilation systems work to extract moisture when you're showering, doing laundry, or cooking. They should lead all the way outdoors. If not, they will dump the removed moisture back into your home.
Failure to control the moisture level from your family's regular daily activities will attract mould growth in your kitchen and bathroom, on your ceilings, and in closets or other places where it's dark and poorly ventilated.
Use Your Air Conditioner
When the weather's warm enough outdoors, you can use your air conditioner to lower humidity levels inside.
Humidity refers to the amount of water vapour in the air. Heat is also a latent property of humidity: the higher the humidity, the more heat the water vapour can hold. An air conditioner works by removing heat from the air, making the water vapour less capable of holding heat. In turn, eliminates moisture.
Please set it to several degrees lower to tackle humidity with your air conditioner. If the house gets too cool, then raise the temperature a little. A dehumidifier works similarly by cooling the air to condense the water molecules and then re-heating the dried air.
Upgrade To A High-Efficiency Hvac Unit
Some high-efficiency heating and cooling systems can alter humidity conditions in the home.
Products like Amana's work in line with each other to monitor your home's moisture levels. You input your preferred settings using the master control, and the system adjusts all the variables.
If you need lower humidity in warm weather, you can make the air conditioner or heat pump work slowly to remove moisture from the air without over-cooling.
Consider A Dehumidifier Or Humidifier
A humidifier or dehumidifier might be the perfect solution if you've exhausted other options. A portable unit is suitable for humidity problems limited to one area of your house — say your child's room or your basement. However, if there is a humidity issue in the entire home, consider a whole-home humidifier or dehumidifier that can work with your HVAC system.
Resolve Major Moisture Issues
Too much moisture in the air could signify a bigger structural issue, such as an easily flooded basement, a leaky roof, or water accumulating around the home's foundation. To fix any of these problems, find the source of water entry and eliminate it.
Ensure your roof's structure is secure and properly maintained; fix holes or leaks and replace roofing material. If rainwater is constantly flowing toward your house and settling around the foundation, this could also be the source of basement flooding or moisture.
Landscape your property so that rainwater will flow away from your home's base, and make sure that downspout drains are pointing several feet away from the foundation.
Use Your Air Conditioner
Your air conditioner naturally helps reduce indoor humidity by introducing cooler air while removing warm, humid air.
Keep humidity under control by getting your air conditioner tuned up and frequently changing the filter. Anything that restricts airflow or causes your air conditioner to stop working is no friend to you.
Actively Use Your Exhaust/Ventilation Fans
Use your ventilation fans when showering or cooking over a hot stove.
While you may normally turn them off after you're done with your activities, keep them on a little longer. It will be a big help in reducing indoor humidity.
Take Cooler Showers
Hot showers = humid air.
We love hot showers as much as the next person, but they are the enemy of home comfort in this scenario.
We're not saying you have to switch to ice baths. However, by lowering the temperature of your showers just a few degrees, you won't add as much steam to the air, which helps with humidity levels.
Fix Any Leaking Pipes
The last thing you want to do when trying to reduce indoor humidity adds moisture. But unfortunately, leaking pipes and faucets do just that.
Fix any leaks, and wrap your exposed pipes in insulators to prevent condensation from forming. Signs of leaks include stained drywall, wet spots, and irregular water bills.
Keep Your Gutters Clean
Gutters are often the cause of indoor water leaks, which are terrible for your home, your humidity level, and you.
It's important that you clean your gutters and that your downspout is directed away from your home and extended at least 6 feet.
Dry Your Laundry Outside
Most of us have clothes we can't put in the dryer. So in the winter, we use indoor drying racks. But in the summer, all those damp clothes will help make your home more humid.
We recommend hanging your clothes on an outside drying rack or clothesline. However, you should check your neighbourhood bylaws before you do – there may be some restrictions.
If you need to hang clothes to dry indoors, you may want to purchase a dehumidifier. For any home with a basement, this is a must.
Get A Dehumidifier
The most surefire way to reduce indoor humidity is to get a dehumidifier.
Dehumidifiers fit right inside your furnace air handler and remove moisture from the air as it passes through.
It's dry and cool when that air reaches you – just the way we like to be in the summer.
The best part? You'll have to use your air conditioner a lot less because it now helps keep humidity levels low. That means less money spent on cooling bills.
Move Your House Plants
Plants are lively and beautiful, but they release their fair share of moisture. If your home has a lot of indoor plants, this could be causing your humidity level to increase.
We suggest a temporary relocation to either a single well-ventilated room or a place outside.
Use Charcoal Briquettes
Charcoal briquettes aren't just for barbecuing anymore. They make a pretty good dehumidification tool.
We're not kidding – this works!
You have to take a few briquettes and place them in a receptacle – a basket or can do. Charcoal is very absorbent and will suck moisture out of your air. You have to replace it every 2-3 months.
Open A Window
Sometimes just opening your window will help lower your humidity levels.
However, you don't want to do this too much when your air conditioner runs. Otherwise, you're spending money cooling air that is getting pulled outside.
Dry Up The Drips
Even a small water leak can develop into a major mould problem, so check pipes under sinks and behind your washing machine and refrigerator (if it has a water line). Repair leaks right away.
Don't Be Sloppy When Watering Your Indoor Plants
I can't tell you how many homes I've seen with moisture stains on the floor under or near an indoor plant. Be careful not to spill or overwater when you water a plant and put a dish under the pot in case the pot leaks. It's also not a great idea to put a plant pot on a carpet or rug.
Watch The Hot Water Tank
Put a battery-operated floor-water alarm near your hot water tank, so you'll be alerted if the tank starts to leak. If you have a central alarm system, consider having a floor-water alarm tied into the system. If you have a gas-fired water heater, plan to replace it right before the warranty expires. Electric water heaters tend to last longer than their warranty, but keep an eye on their warranty date.
Control The Relative Humidity Below-Grade
Mould growth doesn't always require standing water. Some moulds can begin to grow when the relative humidity (RH) is over 80% as the air cools and RH rises. However, Below-grade (below ground level) spaces like basements and crawl spaces are naturally cool and damp, so who must adequately control the RH.
Use a thermo-hygrometer to measure the RH. who should keep the RH at or below 50% in unfinished basement spaces, crawl spaces, and below 60% in finished basement spaces.
During the spring and summer months, between mid-April and mid-October in the northeast, add dehumidification as needed, even if your finished basement has air conditioning. Be sure that your dehumidifier is adequate for the space, and attach the machine to a condensate pump so that it can drain into a sink or to the exterior. That way, you won't have to empty the reservoir (when the reservoir is full, the dehumidifier will shut off).
In the winter, you do not need to dehumidify an unfinished basement. However, a finished basement must be kept consistently warm, whether in use or not, with the thermostat set at a minimum of 57° F.
Don't Over-Humidify Above Grade.
We don't open windows and doors that much in the winter so that moisture can build up in a house in above-grade (at or above ground level) rooms. If you have an exhaust fan over your cookstove that vents to the exterior, use the fan whenever you cook or bake, and try to cook and bake simultaneously.
After showering or bathing, operate the exhaust fan in the bathroom for at least twenty minutes. In addition, leave the door open and operate an oscillating fan in the bathroom to help dry surfaces.
If you have a central humidification system, keep the RH in habitable rooms under 40% (lower in extreme cold). The same holds if you use a portable humidifier in any particular room. Always measure the RH with a thermo-hygrometer.
Keep Your Exterior Closet(S) Warm
A closet with one or more walls facing the exterior can develop conditions of elevated RH. It can lead to mould growth on those walls and goods stored on the cool closet floor. It's best not to overstuff a closet with personal goods; keep your things off the floor and cool walls.
Don't install carpet or put rugs on the closet floor, as carpeting captures biodegradable dust. Instead, remove the dust from the floor and baseboard trim.
To warm the air and help control the RH in an exterior closet, you can heat the closet with a heater specially made for the purpose (or just the light). Or, you can keep the door open to increase the flow of warm air into the space. You can also install a louvred rather than a solid closet door.
Don't Keep Some Rooms Cold While You Heat Other Rooms.
In the winter, it's tempting to heat only the rooms that you use and leave other rooms cool. However, some rooms near the stove are toasty in homes with wood-burning stoves, while others are uncomfortably cold. It may help you save on your heating bills, but unfortunately, high RH conditions can develop in rooms that aren't adequately heated, even if they are above grade. And then you know what may happen next mould growth.
Isolate Your Crawl Space
A crawl space should be isolated from the exterior and be dehumidified. Otherwise, humid air can enter the space and lead to condensation and mould growth on cool surfaces. For example, suppose a crawl space has a dirt floor. In that case, the dirt should be covered with a mesh-reinforced vapour barrier or even with the appropriate cementitious material to limit moisture evaporation from the soil.
Don't Introduce Unnecessary Amounts Of Moisture Into Your Attached Garage.
In the summer, dehumidify your garage during humid weather; keep the RH under 70%. Wipe the snow off your car in the winter, including kicking snow off the tires, before driving the vehicle into the garage. If snow still falls onto the garage floor, sweep it to the exterior before it melts, or sweep the water out of the garage after the snow has melted.
Prevention Steps In The House
If you have a crawl space with a dirt floor, cover it with a polyethylene ground cover. Make sure you have dry soil and no standing water in the area. Use fans to help you dry out the area if you need to.
Make sure your dryer duct vents directly outside. If it doesn't do that, you have a dangerous situation that can cause a fire and also causes high humidity.
Run Exhaust Fans In The House
The kitchen and bathroom fans are there for a reason – to help let out obnoxious odours and excess humidity.
Did you know that if left in a room for 24-48 hours, humidity levels above 55% can cause mould and bacteria to grow? That's just another reason to keep it in check.
Run your exhaust fans whenever you have to cook or take a shower to keep that excess moisture out.
Use A Dehumidifier
If your indoor humidity levels like to hover at 65% or more, it's time to buy a dehumidifier. A portable one will do the job, but you can buy a whole-home dehumidifier if you have the budget available.
Grow Plants That Absorb Humidity
Some plants, like Boston ferns, remove moisture from the air. So not only are you reducing your humidity levels and energy consumption, but you're helping the environment by removing more carbon dioxide and adding more oxygen too!
Don't Boil Water On Especially Humid Days.
Some of that boiled water turns into steam, which then gets absorbed into the rest of your home's air. Some of that will get into your home if it's humid outside, no matter how hard you try. So don't increase your humidity levels even further by boiling water!
Reducing humidity is probably one of the lesser-known energy efficiency tips. But your energy bills, and maybe your health, will thank you for it.
Dry Your Clothes
One chore that comes as a surprising source of humidity within homes is laundry. It stems from the moisture exposed to the home when wet clothes are hung inside. It can be made even worse by poor ventilation within certain rooms. To prevent your damp garments from increasing humidity levels, you can use a dryer or hang wet clothes outside to prevent moisture exposure from affecting your home.
Moisture is a necessary part of life, but it can also be destructive. So it's important to understand how you can control moisture in your house. We've outlined four main ways to keep moisture under control in your home- by using insulation, ventilation, dehumidifiers and water barriers. Each method has its own set of pros and cons, so choose the approach that will work best for your specific needs.
Raise the temperature of cold surfaces where moisture condenses. Use insulation or storm windows. (A storm window installed on the inside works better than one installed outside.) Open doors between rooms (especially doors to closets which may be colder than the rooms) to increase circulation.
Moisture condenses into water droplets when warm, humid air contacts a cool surface, such as uninsulated cold-water pipes. Cooking, bathing, drying clothes, washing dishes, and several other activities release moisture.
The ideal relative humidity for health and comfort is between 30-and 50% humidity. It means that the air holds between 30-50% of the maximum amount of moisture it can contain.