What Is Relative Humidity in Your Home?
When it comes to your home, checking your air quality is essential. Relative humidity (RH) levels can play a major role in your health. While humidity is the amount of water content (moisture or vapor) in the air, relative humidity is when moisture in the air is relative to the temperature—RH is expressed as a percentage of the total amount of moisture the air can hold.
At 100 percent relative humidity, the air volume is saturated with moisture, meaning the moisture in the air has reached capacity, and the vapor will condense into liquid. The environment is uncomfortably humid.
There are three categories indoor relative humidity can fall under:
- Uncomfortably dry, 0 to 25 percent
- Comfortable, 25 to 60 percent
- Uncomfortably humid, 60 to 100 percent
In keeping skin and respiratory irritations at bay, you will be most comfortable between 40 and 60 percent relative humidity.
How Do High and Low Relative Humidity Levels Affect Your Health?
As relative humidity levels spike to 60 percent and higher, homeowners could be at risk of developing adverse health effects that include:
- Skin irritation
If you’re living in an uncomfortably humid environment for a prolonged amount of time, other symptoms, such as chronic headaches and fatigue, can occur.
Using a hygrometer will provide a reading of the moisture content in the air. Some other telltale signs that the indoor air in your home has a high relative humidity level include:
- Mildewy odors
- Stained walls
- Spots on surfaces
- Condensation on surfaces
These are all indicators pointing to mold growth. It’s worth emphasizing that it can change the relative humidity as the outdoor air enters your home. The outdoor air can enter your home through roofs, basements, the crawl space, windows, and attics.
Low relative humidity is equally as harmful as high relative humidity. A low indoor RH may increase respiratory tract infection risk and dry out the nasal passage, thus weakening your sense of smell. You’re also more susceptible to the flu.
In the winter, cold air holds less moisture; therefore, it is easier to saturate cold air. When cold air enters a commonly warm, toasty home during wintertime, the air has a low RH. The combination of dry air and cold air creates a trigger for the flu.
Basically, winter packs a punch for low humidity levels since heating your home can turn the air into something comparable to the high desert.
Because hydration in your skin dips in low humidity, you are prone to itchy, dry skin conditions like eczema or other skin irritation. Other not-too-pleasant side effects include a reduced sensitivity to taste and asthmatic reactions. The perfect storm for irritable skin and respiratory reactions occurs in a dry, low humidity environment.
How To Strike a Balance and Create a Comfortable Relative Humidity
The best cure for high humidity is reducing indoor moisture and retrofitting your home to prevent moisture from entering. Consulting professionals specializing in controlling home humidity levels is an ideal place to start.
There are a few things you can do at home to minimize how much moisture you create:
- Taking shorter showers has some effect.
- Using ventilation throughout the house, especially the bathroom and kitchen will significantly help.
- If you see an area where condensation is, safely clean up the area.
- Using dehumidifiers will also help.
Ideally, you want to consult professionals who work in basement waterproofing and crawl space encapsulation. This is one of the most effective ways to control moisture in your home because it’s where the vast majority of your moisture is entering.
While sometimes mold growth can be safely removed by thoroughly washing the area, it’s best to consult with a mold remediation specialist. To eliminate all traces of mold, get the help of a professional to help locate the source and begin the remediation process.
If you live in a dry and warm region, you can naturally increase the humidity in your home by doing the following:
- Invest in multiple humidifiers; humidifiers are especially useful in the winter when the air is dry.
- Trade out your iron for a steamer.
- Decorate your home with houseplants; not only are house plants aesthetically pleasing, but they add moisture to the air through transpiration.
Everything you would do to reduce the humidity in your home would be the opposite if you want to increase it. You’ll breathe easy with humidifiers adding moisture to your home. Taking warm or hot, steamy showers is a bonus.
If you notice any signs of a home humidity level outside the comfort range, contact our professionals for a comprehensive consultation. You can request a home inspection and a list of the services we provide. Our professionals are fast, efficient, and provide exceptional service.