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What’s Worse For Your Home: Too Much Humidity or Too Little?

When it comes to how comfortable you feel at home, indoor temperature isn’t the only factor involved. The relative humidity (RH) of your home’s interior also plays a crucial role in your health and your home’s health. Too much humidity or too little can both result in equally significant problems.

What’s the optimal humidity level for a home?

According to the EPA, a home’s relative humidity should be kept under 60 percent to avoid pest and mold problems, and the ideal range is between 30 percent and 50 percent. The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends a similar range of 30 percent to 60 percent to avoid health problems and static electricity.

What happens when a home’s humidity is too high?

Even though your skin and hair may enjoy a little extra moisture, excess humidity can result in a number of problems for a household.

  • Mold growth. Mold requires moisture, warmth, and a food source to grow. Once your home’s relative humidity surpasses 60 percent, moldy spots may start to appear on your walls, ceilings, carpet, insulation, and food. Airborne mold spores can trigger allergic reactions like wheezing, hives, and itchy, watery eyes, and they can also be an asthma trigger.
  • Pest control problems. Pests are attracted by moisture because they need it to survive. This is typically why you find bugs like cockroaches in humid rooms like kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Decreased AC efficiency. The more moisture air holds, the longer it takes to cool. This means that your air conditioner has to run for longer cycles to remove that moisture and make your home comfortable. This can result in higher energy bills and increased wear-and-tear on your HVAC equipment.

What happens when a home’s humidity is too low?

While too much humidity is an issue, too little humidity can also bring a host of problems with it.

  • Increased risk of getting sick. Studies show that dry air allows droplets containing germs and bacteria to spread more easily without moisture acting as a barrier. This is a significant reason why the flu becomes more prevalent during winter–when the air is drier.
  • Aggravated asthma and allergies. Cold, dry air in particular can cause asthma flare-ups and allergic symptoms.
  • Physical discomfort. Extremely dry air can cause itchy skin, sore throats, and nasal congestion.
  • Property damage. Fluctuations in humidity can cause wood to warp. If the environment becomes excessively dry, wood can crack as it releases water into the air.

How can I control my home’s relative humidity?

Although you can probably tell just from the signs whether your home’s humidity is too high or too low, it’s best to get an accurate measurement. Some modern thermostats can give you this reading. You can also buy a hygrometer from your local home improvement store. This device will give you your home’s humidity in a percentage.

If your home’s humidity is too high, a dehumidifier can help. As its name suggests, this device helps remove excess moisture from your indoor air. If your home could use a little more moisture, consider installing a whole-home humidifier to regulate the humidity throughout your entire living space.

At Premier Indoor Comfort Systems, LLC, we pride ourselves on providing top-quality customer service and indoor air quality solutions to our customers in Canton and Tyrone, Georgia, and Whittier, North Carolina, and the surrounding areas. For help controlling the humidity in your Southern home, don’t hesitate to call us at (770) 268-2422 or contact us online.