Excess humidity in parts of your home could be causing mold growth. Here’s how to spot the problem areas and fix them.
A little humidity can be a good thing. After all, what would your favorite beach vacation be without that balmy seaside weather? Humidity, when controlled and moderate, makes us feel great. It can help with feelings of dehydration, and can even keep our skin properly hydrated (gotta love that “dewy glow.”). But excess humidity is a problem, in the air and in your home. Need proof? Think about how you feel when that balmy vacation weather turns swampy. You’re sticky, hot, and uncomfortable. The same is true for your home environment: too much humidity, and your house becomes a breeding ground for funky smells, as well as health hazards from mold growth.
But how can you deal with the excess humidity problem? What areas of the home are vulnerable, and how do you fix and prevent overly humid air? We’ve got some answers for you. Get comfortable in your beach chair and read on.
What Is Humidity?
First things first: What is humidity and how does it occur? Humidity is moisture (water) in the air. This happens when water droplets collect on cool surfaces. Where are these water droplets coming from? Likely your home appliances, pipes, faucets, showerheads or taps. Any area of the home in which you use water is a potential area of excess humidity. The kitchen and bathroom are the most likely culprits.
During the summer, cold water pipes (located in the walls and leading to your faucets and taps) are often the cause of too much humidity. And although we tend to equate humidity exclusively with summer and warm weather, it can occur in the winter, too. Improperly sealed windows and doors are breeding grounds for excess moisture — they provide those necessary “cold surfaces” for the water droplets to land on. Your basement is another prime environment for too much moisture, especially if it is unfinished, and cooler than the rest of your home.
Is Home Excess Humidity A Problem?
There are short- and long-term problems with excess humidity in your house. In the immediate, it will make your home environment feel uncomfortable. For example, think about how it feels to hang out in a bathroom immediately after taking a shower. If the room hasn’t been properly ventilated, it can be downright unpleasant.
But there are some major long-term issues that can occur, too. Peeling paint or wallpaper is a sign of too much humidity. Not only does it look unsightly, it’s a sign of problems afoot. Your biggest concern with humidity in the home is mold, and in particular black mold. There is a small amount of harmless mold in the form of spores floating throughout our homes at all time — this is common, normal, and safe. The issue occurs when the mold lands on damp surfaces, thus finding an environment to grow.
Exposure to mold can cause allergic reactions and aggravate asthma, leading to respiratory health problems.
How To Deal With Excess Humidity
If you’re dealing with mold due to excess humidity, the first order of business is to dry the high-moisture area. The EPA encourages addressing this within 48 hours to prevent further damage and potential growth. Cleaning and disinfecting the area is key, but if you don’t fix the greater problem, you’ll find yourself in the same situation again and again.
Here are 8 top ways to treat excess humidity in your home:
- Use an air conditioner in the warm months, which not only cools the air, but removes excess moisture.
- Properly insulate all windows and doors during cooler months to minimize cool surface contact — especially in high-water-use areas.
- Open your curtains during winter! It may seem counter-intuitive, but allowing sunlight in will help warm surface and minimize cold surface contact.
- Contact an HVAC professional to inspect your pipes and/or provide insulation work.
- Install and use a bathroom ventilation fan. Your HVAC professional can help you with this. It can be helpful to run the fan for a few minutes after your shower or bath, too.
- Buy and use a dehumidifier in high-moisture areas (especially the basement or cellar).
- Store your firewood outside, rather than inside. You may not see it, but wood, especially “green” wood contains moisture.
- Covering your pots and pans when steaming, boiling, or braising something on the stove. This is particularly helpful when cooking for a long period of time.
Although excess humidity is a problem for many homeowners, it is relatively easy (and often inexpensive) to mitigate. As with all home improvement issues, it’s best to address the problem before it “snowballs” into a large, costly problem.
Contact Blanton’s Air at (910) 249-4898 for all your Fayetteville or Raleigh, NC HVAC and plumbing needs.