Hot, sticky summer days are notorious for bringing the humidity inside your home. Besides being just plain uncomfortable, overly humid conditions can lead to mold and mildew growth, both of which can aggravate asthma or allergies. To keep yourself and your family healthy, it is important that you have the humidity in your home under control.
Detrimental Effects of Too Much Humidity
You may think that humidity is just a case of feeling sticky, but since an increase in water vapor in your home can lead to an overgrowth of indoor allergens such as mold and dust mites, you may actually find yourself coughing, sneezing and congested as a result of an overly humid home. To make matters worse, most mold and mites are not visible to the naked eye; so they can easily be lurking on your countertops, mattress, pillows and rugs while you go about your day.
As if the health effects of humidity were not bad enough, excess water vapor can also cause rot in your home. Moisture in the home can also lure pests, especially in the southern U.S. where pests like termites and carpenter ants are more prevalent.
If you or anyone in your home is suffering from allergies or asthma, you should try keeping the humidity in your home under 50 percent. But to keep dry-air issues (such as dry skin and difficulty breathing) at bay, make sure the humidity level is at least 25 percent.
Quick Environmental Solutions
Much of the humidity you will find indoors is actually a product of everyday living. When we shower, cook and run the clothes dryer (or hang wet clothes inside), we are putting moisture into the air. Because the bathroom is one of the main humidity culprits, you should ensure that your bathroom is properly ventilated. Turn on the exhaust fan whenever someone is taking a shower, and consider opening the window as well.
When you are cooking, you should turn the exhaust vent (if you have one) and open a window. That steam you see escaping from your pot of boiling spaghetti is going right into your house and increasing humidity.
If your bathroom and kitchen do not have exhaust fans, you may want to consider consulting with an electrician to get an estimate on how much installing them would cost. It could be a small price to pay to keep you and your family healthy.
Rethink Your Floors
That wall-to-wall carpet may feel great on your feet, but chances are that it is also trapping moisture and causing your home to be more humid. In fact, if you or anyone in your family is susceptible to allergies or asthma, that carpet is also likely to be exacerbating the symptoms: moisture-loving mites are especially attracted to carpet. You may want to consider removing the carpets and installing low-cost laminate flooring instead.
Try Simple Machinery
Another way to tackle excess humidity in your home, especially in attic or basement areas, is to use a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers work best when used individually in smaller areas, so you may want to purchase more than one if you have several problem spots in your home. You can buy a dehumidifier at most local hardware stores, or you may even be able to find one secondhand by perusing local classified ads.
In warmer weather, using either central or window-unit air conditioners will help to keep the humidity inside your home down. Be sure that window-unit air conditioners that you use are the correct size for the rooms they are installed in, because over-sized units can actually cool down rooms too quickly without reducing humidity levels. The proper air conditioner size is one ton of cooling per 600 square feet of living space.
Window-unit air conditioners can be purchased at most hardware stores as well as many discount and warehouse stores. People also tend to move and sell them, so you may have luck buying one secondhand at a moving sale or from a classified ad.
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