Controlling Moisture and Maintaining Proper Humidity Levels at Home

Close-up view of residential kitchen
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Keeping the correct humidity level in your home is important to your well-being. While a little moisture can be beneficial, too much could be hazardous to your health.​

Recommended Relative Humidity Level

The recommended average relative humidity level is between 35 and 45 percent. This range will provide the best comfort for your family while helping to protect your musical instruments, drywall, wooden furniture, and other belongings or materials from the damaging effects of dryness or excessive moisture.

Relative humidity levels actually fluctuate depending on climate and air temperature, so use the average range with caution and knowledge about your home. How a home handles humidity depends on many factors including design, construction, vapor retarders, and how airtight the building is.

What Happens When Humidity Is Too High?

When there is too much moisture in your home, moist air gets trapped in corners, basements, and other closed areas. This is often very noticeable in bathrooms when moisture gathers in corners and creates mildew that is difficult to remove. Condensation can also accumulate in windows, causing water to drip down the window and wooden frames to rot. This moisture provides a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Look for these and other signs you need a dehumidifier in your home.

How to Remove Excess Humidity

What method you choose to remove moisture from the air depends on the severity of the problem, the season, and where the dampness is. If it's winter and an area could benefit from heat such as a basement, heating that space could return it to a proper moisture level. If the humidity is excessive, you may need a combination of both heat and a dehumidifier to reach proper levels. A damp bathroom can benefit from an open window or a ceiling exhaust fan to draw the moist air or shower/bath steam to the exterior of the home. In spring when heating is not an option, buying a dehumidifier may be your best option for removing dampness from the basement or main floor.

Portable Multi-Function Units

Air conditioners also help in controlling moisture levels in your home. Some portable humidifiers are designed with adjustable built-in monitors that activate the unit when levels are too low or turn it off when levels are too high. If you think these portable units might help, consider buying a multi-function unit for your home.

When Should You Add Humidity?

During cold winters, your heating system can make the air in your home too dry. This can cause discomfort, dry skin, and can also cause wooden items to crack. To improve the air quality, you can add a humidifier to those areas where you spend the most time. Some people benefit from having them in the bedroom to humidify the air overnight. Another option is to install a whole-house humidifier to your heating system.

How to Maintain an Optimum Humidity Level

A hygrometer is a small instrument with a display that shows what the relative humidity level is in the room where it is located. Inexpensive and user-friendly, this little gadget can help you to monitor the air so you can adjust your humidity level when required, by either adding a humidifier or dehumidifier to your home.

Product Care and Maintenance

If you are using a humidifier or dehumidifier, read your product manual and follow the recommended guidelines for filter changes or cleaning. If your product is running with a clogged and dirty filter, you could be adding bacteria and mold spores to the room. Regular cleaning and filter changes will prevent this.