Excessive indoor humidity can create mold problems and helps foster the growth of dust mites and bacteria. It can also lead to discomfort, causing a room to feel hot and sticky in the summer or cold and damp in the winter. Sometimes simple fixes are enough to reduce the humidity level in certain rooms or throughout your entire home. When they're not, you may need to look at more complex options, such as waterproofing your basement or rerouting the venting on household appliances.
Kitchen and Bathroom Habits
Humidity is simply moisture in the air, so attacking humidity problems begins in the rooms where you use water the most: the kitchen and bathroom. Reduce humidity in the kitchen by running an exhaust fan when cooking or washing dishes and leaving the lids on pots when you boil water. If you don't have a fan that vents outside, crack open a window. This same rule applies when taking baths and showers. You might also be able to place a lid on top of your shower stall to keep the steam contained while you bathe.
Whether they are in your kitchen, bathroom or elsewhere, houseplants contribute to household moisture. Reduce the number of plants in your home if you have humidity problems.
- Remember other household sources of moisture as well. Repair dripping faucets inside and outside the home as well as any leaky pipes. Keep barrels, wagons, trash cans or other debris that could hold rainwater well away from your home's foundation and exterior walls.
The Right Appliances
Running a dehumidifier is an effective way to reduce humidity and one that works throughout the year. In the summer, you can run an air conditioner instead of or in addition to the dehumidifier, depending upon the humidity level in your home. Central air will reduce the amount of humidity in your home and help circulate the air, but a simple window unit will help lower humidity in individual rooms where it is high. In the summer, indoor humidity levels should not exceed 55 percent, according to the Minnesota Building Industry Foundation. In the winter, indoor humidity should be kept between 30 percent and 45 percent. Humidity can be measured using a humidity meter, available at most hardware stores.
Dry Your Basement
If your basement is unfinished, you may think a little water seeping in every now and then isn't a big deal. A wet basement, however, can cause foundation issues and increases the overall humidity level in your home. To reduce humidity, keep water out of your basement by making sure your spouts extend well beyond the home's foundation, keeping gutters and downspouts open and making sure your yard slopes away from the house. If you do get water in your basement, clean it up immediately rather than letting the water dry on its own.
- Limit the number of landscaping plants around your home's foundation. You may be adding moisture to your basement every time you water them.
- If necessary, consider sealing cinder block basement walls or otherwise waterproofing the space.
Make sure household appliances that should be vented to the outside are. These include stoves, kerosene heaters and clothes dryers. The clothes dryer is a major source of moisture when vented inside, and this arrangement should be avoided. Other appliances, like dishwashers, create humidity but aren't meant to be vented to the outdoors. Consider cracking a window or running a ventilation fan when using these appliances.
Whenever possible, avoid line-drying clothes indoors as this adds moisture to the air.