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Maintaining Proper Humidity Levels within Your Home
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
Much is written on the subject of water damage, specifically that which is caused by burst pipes, flash flooding, or other severe cases. What many people fail to realize, however, is that water damage can be caused by something as simple as having unusually high humidity levels in your home over an extended period.
Excess humidity in your home may result in condensation on windows and walls, water stains on walls and ceilings, as well as the premature rusting of metal and rotting of wood found in the support structure of the home. High levels of humidity also set the stage for mold growth; which, in severe cases, may render a property uninhabitable.
A University of Minnesota study determined the appropriate humidity levels that should be found within a structure:
|Outside Temperature||Inside Humidity|
|20º to 40ºF||Not over 40%|
|10º to 20ºF||Not over 35%|
|0º to 10ºF||Not over 30%|
|-10º to 0ºF||Not over 25%|
|-20º to –10ºF||Not over 20%|
|-20ºF or below||Not over 15%|
Controlling Humidity Levels
What is the key to controlling humidity levels in your home? One word: circulation. You have to keep the air circulating properly throughout your house. This can be accomplished any number of ways.
Consider installing exhaust fans in rooms where there is higher than normal levels of humidity, such as the bathrooms, laundry, or kitchen areas.
A less expensive option is to purchase a dehumidifier (or a few of them, depending on the size of your home). Dehumidifiers condense the moisture in the air, storing it in a tank which may be emptied on a regular basis.
Sometimes, simply opening windows can be an excellent cure-all, if the weather outside is appropriately dry. Open windows, crank up ceiling fans or anything to get the air circulating throughout your home and preventing humidity levels from building up to a dangerous level.
Gauging Humidity Levels
Any fogging of windows or condensation is a sign of too much moisture in the air. Increased cases of static electricity, cracking of paint, or dried out millwork may be an indication of too little humidity.
You can also utilize a digital or analog hygrometer to measure humidity levels, or some homes may be equipped with a humidistat to monitor and control those levels.
If you find yourself in the situation of your home being too dry, you can increase humidity levels through the use of a humidifier, which adds moisture to the air. The best thing about them is that they are self-regulating; as the humidity levels increase, the less water is evaporated from the unit into the air. Just be sure to keep the filters clean and changed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Ideal in-home humidity levels should be kept around 45%. Anything over 50% is too high and less than 30% is too dry.
Remember, it doesn’t necessarily take a flood to cause major damage to your home. Simply overlooking the water in the air around you can be a costly mistake. Take the time to make sure that the humidity levels in your home are within acceptable parameters.
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