High humidity feels very uncomfortable. You’re hot, clammy, and all-around miserable when it becomes unbearably humid in your home, and all you want to do is to get your indoor air quality back on track. However, to do that, you need to figure out why your home is so humid in the first place.
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1. The climate in your location plays a role
Climate is probably the biggest contributor to high humidity. If the weather is especially humid, chances are it’s going to be muggy in your home as well. Changes in seasons and temperatures can be significant factors for increasing indoor humidity levels. Warmer air typically contains more moisture; therefore, regions with a coastal climate have higher relative humidity. The same is also true for places that receive a lot of rainfall. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about this besides focusing on your indoor environment.
2. Everyday activities
Indoor humidity levels can fluctuate depending on the simple activities you do every day, and some tasks can naturally add more moisture to the air than others. Here are some of the top contributors to high humidity:
Bathrooms are often one of the most humid places in the home. The simple act of taking a shower releases moisture into the air. The moisture mixes with the air as water vapor, eventually settling on a cold surface, forming visible droplets. This is known as condensation. The hotter the water, the more moisture the air can hold and the more condensation on cold surfaces. That’s why condensation is considered a bigger concern whenever you take a hot shower, and there’s a lot of steam rising from the water.
- Cooking or boiling water
Cooking or boiling water on the stove will add humidity to your living space as the water evaporates. If you’ve ever noticed how hot it gets in your kitchen when you’re cooking in a kitchen with little to no ventilation, you may have felt the effects of humidity as a result of these daily activities.
- Drying laundry indoors
A load of laundry can release several liters of water into the air. This volume of water doesn’t magically disappear when your clothes dry, and it will become especially apparent when your home suddenly feels stuffier.
3. Rising damp
Humidity can come up through the soil underneath the foundation of your house. This is known as rising dampness, and poor construction and ineffective grading can be significant contributing factors since rain and groundwater can accumulate in a home’s foundation. Basements are often humid since they tend to be poorly insulated and are less likely to feature windows, which can exacerbate any issues.
4. Leaks in the plumbing system
Leaks coming through the cracks in your plumbing system could be causing increased moisture in the air. To find the source of leaks in your home, check pipes for cracks, holes, and corrosion. Catching a leak early can help to prevent water damage, damp smells, and even potential mold growth. While some signs of leaking are pretty easy to spot, others are not apparent. Look for wall discoloration, a dripping sound, bubbling paint or wallpaper, and an unexplained musty smell.
5. Your air conditioning unit may be the problem
Sometimes you may still experience high humidity levels in your home, even when you have an air conditioning unit. Here are some of the reasons why:
- An oversized air conditioning unit
If you have an oversized window or central air conditioning unit, it may be the reason you have an issue with excessive moisture in your home. Normally, your AC helps regulate the humidity of your living space – the evaporator coil in the unit acts like a dehumidifier by pulling humidity from the air as it runs. However, if the unit is oversized, it may cool a room or home too quickly, running for only 10-15 minutes on a hot day before it shuts down. A longer runtime is necessary for the dehumidifying process to take place properly.
- Single-speed units
Air conditioners that run at one speed only can contribute to your humidity issues. For example, if you have a single unit that turns on and continues to run until it reaches the desired temperature, it will automatically turn off until it rises above a specific threshold. The AC unit won’t adequately remove the humidity that may have built up in the room in such a case.
- Frost on evaporator coils
Despite using a properly sized air conditioning unit with variable speed, the issue may be frozen evaporator coils if you have a humid home. The frost on your unit’s evaporator coils may interfere with its functioning, including its ability to remove humidity from the air.
6. An inadequate ventilation system
A reliable ventilation system can help control the humidity levels in your home. On the other hand, an inadequate ventilation system will encourage the buildup of moisture and, in turn, humidity. You want to have a proper ventilation system, especially in rooms where moisture is regularly generated, like laundry rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms.
7. Gas heaters
Gas heaters need to burn gas to generate heat through a process known as combustion. During this process, gas heaters release combustion pollutants and water vapor. A flued gas heater features a flue or chimney that carries the pollutants and water vapor to the outside of the home. On the other hand, an unfueled gas heater doesn’t have this feature and instead releases pollutants and water vapor directly into the room. If there isn’t proper ventilation in the house, the water vapor produced by gas heaters can cause high humidity and wet surfaces.
Renovations may be for the better, but they can quickly turn your house into a high humidity space, especially if materials like plaster, cement, and paint aren’t given ample time to dry completely.
9. Abundance of plants
Nearly all plants add humidity to the air in varying degrees, but some houseplants are much better humidifiers than others. In general, plants with large, broad leaves tend to have a greater humidifying effect than needle-shaped or small rounded leaves. Some houseplants that can contribute to high humidity levels in your home include:
- Peace Lily
- Bamboo Palm
- Areca Palm
How can you tell if you have humidity issues in your house?
When the air in your home contains a lot of vapor, you may start to notice some signs that indicate humidity issues. Here are some of the potential problems to keep an eye out for:
1. Visible condensation on cooler surfaces of the house
Look for visible condensation on cooler surfaces like pipes, mirrors, windows, and in your basement. Feel and check nearby areas to ensure that the moisture isn’t spreading to walls and nearby surfaces if you come across it.
2. Peeling wallpaper and damaged paintwork
Your walls are a prime spot for condensation to settle if you have a humidity problem. The issue is particularly evident on exterior walls, as it’s on these surfaces that warm, humid air meets a cooler surface. Peeling wallpaper of flaky paint is a telltale sign of excess moisture. While it might be tempting to paint or paper over the issue, not dealing with the issue will only exacerbate it.
3. Mold and/or mildew smell
Mold and mildew have a damp, musty, pungent smell – often resembling the smell of rotting wood. They can be found growing in various conditions, but in damp, humid parts of your house, they find the ideal conditions to settle on surfaces and thrive. Mildew usually refers to the gray or whitish patches on surfaces like windowsills, shower curtains, or tiles. At the same time, a mold is dark green or black fungi that can penetrate deeper into building materials.
4. Rotting floors, furnishings, and furniture
Excessive moisture due to high humidity levels in your home can damage wood by creating stains and growths. In extreme cases, you may notice serious decay. Sometimes when excessive moisture isn’t dealt with, it can cause irreversible damage to window frames, hardwood floors, and other wooden fittings.
5. Damaged walls
The walls of most homes feature air/vapor barriers that are meant to prevent warm moist air from penetrating the surface, but these don’t always work as they should. In areas where the weather is warmer, moisture can condense in foundation materials, basements, and crawl spaces, leading to issues with the structure. When the moisture levels in plaster, studs, or joints are constantly fluctuating, it causes the materials to contract and swell. Consequently, high humidity can lead to cracks, which may require expensive repairs.
6. Water stains on ceilings
You’ll want to keep an eye out for wet stains on the ceiling. Moisture often manifests itself as discoloration, which can be difficult to see in certain lighting conditions.
Related article: How Do You Air Out A Room Quickly?
Health problems caused by high humidity
When the relative humidity in your home regularly exceeds 60%, you’ll notice that you feel clammy and uncomfortable. There are also many other health consequences that you may experience as a result – here are some of the most common:
Bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments, and certain bacteria species promote the development and worsening of allergic inflammation. Dust mites, which thrive in humid conditions, trigger allergic symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, itchy eyes, cough, and facial pressure and pain. You may also experience allergies, asthma attacks, and other symptoms related to harmful mold growth.
As the humidity in your home increases, it becomes increasingly hard for your body to regulate your temperature. Sweat doesn’t evaporate effectively in humid conditions, so your body may react by pumping out even more sweat to manage a rising body temperature. Sweating excessively can lead to a loss of water and essential minerals in your body. As a result, your body will try to prevent overheating by using defense mechanisms such as altered blood flow and increased respiration. All of this can put you at risk of dehydration, fatigue, respiratory problems, and muscle cramps, to mention a few.
3. Sleep issues
When humidity is high, and you feel clammy and overheated, you may find yourself having a hard time falling asleep. Humidity has also been known to increase congestion, which can disrupt your breathing and cause snoring.
Related article: How Do You Air Out A Room Quickly?
How to get rid of excess humidity in your home
Keeping in mind the health and structural concerns that an overly humid home can cause, it’s important to deal with this problem as soon as possible. Here are some of the ways to get rid of humidity in your house:
1. Run your air conditioner
A functioning, high-quality air conditioning system will help reduce humidity by emitting cool air while extracting warmer air out of the room. Be sure to perform routine maintenance on your unit and regularly replace the filters, as clogged filters can reduce airflow.
2. Use fans to get rid of stale air
Fans are effective at moving warm stale air around the room. Turning on a fan will increase the airflow and remove excess moisture through evaporation.
3. Take colder and shorter showers
While you may cherish your long, hot showers, they might be contributing to the high humidity levels in your home. You can manage this by simply taking colder and/or shorter showers. It might also be worth investing inefficient appliances like low-flow showerheads or trying simpler options like showering with a partially opened tap.
4. Ventilate your house
Allowing air to circulate in your home can go a long way when it comes to managing humidity levels in your home, so don’t hesitate to open your windows or use your ventilation fans whenever it gets a bit too muggy.
5. Invest in a dehumidifier
Consider buying a whole-home dehumidifier or a portable model to manage your indoor humidity levels.
6. Move your plants
Consider moving some of your houseplants outside (especially those that contribute significantly to high humidity levels), even just temporarily.
7. Run exhaust fans
Be sure to run your exhaust fans whenever you cook or take a shower to keep excess moisture from building up in your kitchen and bathroom.
8. Dry clothes outside
Hang your clothes to dry outside, especially during humid seasons. If that’s not an option, consider using a clothes dryer that is vented to the outdoors.
Ultimately, high humidity levels have a variety of causes: climate, poor ventilation, rising dampness, leaks in the plumbing system, and daily activities are just a few of the culprits. Once you pinpoint the issue, finding a solution is much easier!
Last update on 2023-04-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API