Managing Your Home’s Indoor Humidity

Image of an interior house window covered in wet humidity
Depending on where you live, your seasons probably look something like this:Fall
  • Winter
  • Spring
  • Humidity

We’re all familiar with humidity outside our homes, but have you ever considered the indoor humidity of your home? It must really matter. Otherwise, why would there be a whole industry dedicated to selling humidifiers and dehumidifiers?Steven Wright, a long-time comedian with a warped sense of humor and deadpan delivery once said:

For my birthday, I got a humidifier and a dehumidifier. I put them in the same room and let them fight it out. (Source: scomedy.com)

While that may not seem practical, in some areas of the country, it may make sense to have both types of machines on hand – depending on how weather impacts you locally throughout different times of the year.

The Trouble with a Home that has Low Indoor Humidity

Indications of a home interior with low humidity can be apparent to home occupants, in the form of dry skin, chapped lips, a bloody nose, itchy throat, dry eyes, coughing – as well as asthma, allergy, and sinus problems.

The Trouble with a Home that has High Indoor Humidity

Ask anyone. High humidity is one of the leading causes of bad hair days.

Humid air can just make you feel uncomfortable – making it feel hotter than it really is inside your home. Asthma, allergy, and sinus problems can present themselves again, just like the do in a home that’s too dry. Really high humidity indoors can also warp wood floors, while causing peeling paint and wallpaper, wall and ceiling stains, and (in general) just make your home smell less than ideal.

There Must be a Middle Ground

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that you maintain a humidity level of 30-50%. This will feel comfortable to you, inhibit the growth of mold, and may discourage pests and dust mites from taking up residence in your home.

Speaking of mold, the EPA also offers a downloadable PDF called A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home. If you suspect a mold problem in your home (which can produce allergens and overall unhealthy conditions), this guide tells you how to address the situation.

How to Measure Indoor Humidity: Hygrometers

Hygrometers (not to be confused with hydrometers) are tools designed to measure the humidity in your home. Here’s a handy article that gives you the skinny on 11 different hygrometers you may want to consider for your home. And, yes, one of them even includes a companion smartphone app.

Ready to Take Control of Your Indoor Humidity?

There are a lot of things to consider in making your home safe from the ill effects of low and high indoor humidity. Does air-conditioning help? Should I consider a humidifier or dehumidifier? Should I approach rooms with water (kitchens and bathrooms) differently than the rest of my home? Do houseplants make a difference?

There’s so much to consider, we’ve curated a short list of excellent resources that can help guide you through the processes:

How Humidity Affects Your Health
Conquer Home Humidity Problems
The Effect of Humidity on HVAC Performance