Home humidity can be a serious problem if not addressed. It can lead to mold, mildew, and other problems that are costly and hard to fix. The region of the country we live in is also a factor, as some areas are much more humid than others. Georgia has a relatively high humidity, especially from May to September.
In Georgia, the average relative humidity is about 50%, with some summer days reaching levels as high as 90%. While 50% is perfect for those who like to avoid dry air, it's also too high for most homes. The problem is that humid environments are ideal for the growth of mold and mildew. Humidity levels like this can lead to a variety of problems in homes, from cupping flooring to mold growth. These issues can even lead to, or increase health problems, including breathing difficulties and allergies.
Humid air also encourages condensation, which means that water could collect on your windowsills and wet materials will rot faster than they would in drier climates.
Symptoms of a Humidity Problem
Some possible contributors are lack of ventilation, plumbing leaks, and poor insulation. Your HVAC system should be inspected periodically for leaks and condensation lines close to windows should be insulated by caulking them or adding insulation panels. You can also try installing a dehumidifier if your home doesn't have one yet. You may need to call an HVAC specialist if you don't know how.
It is not uncommon for homeowners to find mold because of high humidity and condensation. One of the areas we often find mold in is a homes' crawlspace.
This is because moisture, which enters the crawlspace from outside, can cause mold to grow. In addition, excess humidity can lead to a buildup of harmful gases such as radon and carbon dioxide.
However, if your crawlspace is enclosed, installing a dehumidifier will help keep your home fresh and healthy.
If you are considering an enclosed/encapsulated crawlspace in Georgia, it's code to install a dehumidifier. Crawlspace Encapsulation for more information.
Why does Humidity Matter
Water vapor is a major component of the Earth's atmosphere, and its effects can be noticed through careful observation. It can change the shape of the clouds, condense into rain or snow, or stay in the air.
In the atmosphere, water vapor is also called humidity. The atmospheric relative humidity is measured by how much water vapor is in an air column at any given time. When there is no water vapor in an air column at all, then it has 0% relative humidity. When the air is full and unable to hold any more water vapor then it has 100% relative humidity.
Although most molds need a minimum equilibrium relative humidity of 88%, there are many mold species that require much less moisture. For these other species, a humidity level of just 66-70% is enough to give these spores exactly what they need to start growing in your home. No water necessary, just good old fashion high humidity.
The way that water interacts with materials depends on what type of material and how it absorbs or rejects water. For example, cotton tends to shrink when exposed to a lot of moisture because it absorbs it so well. Wood and concrete are considered low evaporative materials and if they absorb a significant amount of water, it may require special methods or a longer amount of time to try and dry these assemblies.
Humidity is What Makes Your Home Comfortable
Most people are aware that humidity levels in the house need to be kept within a certain range, but the majority of people don't know what that range is. Preferably humidity should not exceed 50% or drop below 30%.
According to the EPA, humidity above 50% is seen as too high, while humidity below 30% is generally too low. Meaning the ideal range of relative humidity in your home is between 30% and 50%.
If your home was not built to have low humidity, then when humidity drops below 30% you may see the effects in cracks in the walls or concrete, shrinking of floor planks or other maintenance related issues. Worse than that, humidity levels that low can have effects on you too, such as sore throat, nose bleeds, and just feeling uncomfortable.
Humidity and Your Energy Bill
High humidity can cause your energy bill to spike. Why? Because air with less water vapor in it is quicker and easier to heat or cool then air with more water vapor in it. The more water vapor or humidity, the more energy it takes to heat and cool. There are many different ways to reduce humidity in your home. You can use a dehumidifier, fix air or water leaks, or get an air conditioner.
A dehumidifier is the best option for those who want to avoid using a lot of electricity and save some money on their energy bill. A dehumidifier will lower the humidity inside your home and reduce the risk of mold growth and other potential health hazards which come with high levels of humid air.
Ways to Prevent Humidity Damage
To prevent humidity damage to your home:
- Avoid leaving wet clothes or dish towels in the room for long periods.
- Keep the room temperature at a level that is comfortable for you (not too cold).
- Use dehumidifiers when necessary.
- Ventilate the room with fresh air by opening windows regularly (Unless it's really humid outside).
Preventing High Humidity and Mold Growth
If you want to keep humid air away from cool surfaces, use a dehumidifier. This will help to prevent mold and mildew from growing on your furniture. The moisture in the air will be drawn into the machine and then circulated back out as warm dry air.
This simple solution is perfect for those of us who live in the south where humidity is high year-round. Install a commercial grade dehumidifier in your home today and enjoy better living conditions!
A dehumidifier can be used indoors or unfinished spaces to keep cool surfaces dry. If you need to keep humid air away from something that requires constant cold temperatures, like a refrigerator or freezer, place one near these appliances or install a whole house dehumidifier for continuous protection against mold growth.
Improving a Humid Environment
The best way to keep surfaces warm when they’re in contact with humid air is to place a small space heater next to the surface you want to heat up. The heating element will produce infrared waves that can penetrate through the humid air.
Turning on ceiling fans can also help provide a circulation of heated air in your home. This will cause hot air, which is less dense, to rise higher and flow across the room or space while cooling down. Furthermore, it will create a wind-chill effect on surfaces in contact with humid air, making them feel warmer relatively quickly.
Running your air conditioner actually helps to reduce the humidity in your home as well. The air conditioner passes the humid air through its coils and the condensation builds up and is pumped out of the condensation lines outside of your home. If you live in a humid area like Georgia, never turn off your air conditioner when you vacation, otherwise the humidity could build up and cause visible mold growth throughout your house. Using a fan can help circulate cooler air and reduce the need for an air conditioning unit.
Regardless of the season, humidity levels should be monitored and kept below 50% for both comfort and safety.