Is there something wrong with your nose or skin and you can’t quite tell what’s up? Do you feel inexplicably tired? Is mold forming inside your house? Perhaps you need to take a long hard look at your house’s humidity.
Humidity can be a big factor for your life’s quality. When humidity values are too low or high you run into respiratory issues, and your house’s wood furniture starts having issues.
In this article, you are going to learn everything there is to know about humidity, and how it influences your life, house, and health.
Keep reading to learn what’s important about the topic.
How to Measure Humidity
Humidity is measured through an instrument called hygrometer, which measures the current level of water vapor in the air and then compares it with saturation vapor pressure.
There are two ways of measuring humidity: absolute and relative.
- Absolute humidity is the measure of water vapor in the air, ignoring temperature
- Relative humidity is the measure of water vapor in the air divided by the vapor pressure level (the maximum amount of water vapor that air can hold at that specific temperature).
When I refer to humidity in this article, I’m always talking about relative humidity, because it’s the factor used in measuring air quality indoors.
Why Measure Humidity
As I hinted in the previous section, the principal reason to measure humidity is that it tells us a lot about air quality.
Specifically, if humidity is too high or low, we are at risk of running into respiratory issues. Objects inside our house are also at risk if the humidity levels aren’t controlled.
Since humidity has such a huge impact on our life, it is crucial to learn everything about it. If you know what causes humidity to rise or drop, and the effects it has on your body, you are better equipped to deal with potential issues.
Factors That Influence Humidity
What actually influences humidity? What should you look for when dealing with issues of high or low humidity?
Temperature is the main factor influencing humidity. High temperature usually comes with more moisture into the air, whereas colder climates enjoy drier air. Which is also why winter equals low humidity, whereas high humidity usually happens in summer.
Your HVAC system also plays a role in humidity, but we are going to look into it more in depth later on.
Plants are another factor that affects the levels of humidity in a house. Some plants absorb moisture from the air for their nutrition, while others release moisture. Depending on your humidity situation, you want to place the right types of plants to change humidity.
Here are the types of plants you should consider for your house:
- If you want to increase humidity, add plants such as spider plant, jade plant, rubber plant, peace lily, and corn plant
- If you want to lower humidity, add plants such as epiphytes like orchids, tillandsias, and ferns
Plants are a pretty and inexpensive way of controlling indoor humidity.
Activities involving hot water
Humidity is all about water evaporating, and the vapor dispersing into the air increased air’s moisture. For example, cooking creates a lot of vapor which in turn increases the room’s relative humidity.
Another example is drying clothes outside. The water evaporating from the clothes will increase humidity by a lot. Same goes for when you take a hot shower or bath, there will be a lot of water vapor in the air. You can keep your bathroom’s door open after showering if you want the humidity to circulate around your house.
You can also keep your dishwasher open once it’s done its job. This will make the hot water used to clean your dishes evaporate and raise your house’s humidity.
Since you do these activities multiple times throughout the week, they are a simple and effective way of manipulating indoor humidity.
The HVAC system and house maintenance
The HVAC system in your house can either solve your issues or exacerbate them. If you have good air conditioning you can control humidity easily, but you can also exaggerate with it and end up causing more harm than good.
Don’t let your house’s temperature rise up too high, and don’t let the air conditioner suck up all of your home’s moisture. Both of these will lead to disaster.
Regarding house maintenance, a big reason indoor humidity spikes up is the phenomenon known as sweating pipes, which happens when the pipe has water dripping when there is no leak present. The water will then evaporate, causing humidity levels to rise. A simple solution to this issue is insulating the pipe.
A bigger issue is pipes leaking, in that case you should fix them immediately, as you are not only dealing with increased humidity levels, but also a huge waste of water.
Your gutter can also impact your house’s humidity level. If it’s cluttered, water will stagnate in it and then evaporate when the temperature rises, causing indoor humidity to rise. Cleaning your gutter is also beneficial for other reasons, so I suggest learning how to do it yourself, it’s easy and doesn’t take too much time.
Last, a great way of dealing with humidity is through your windows. Open your windows when the air outside is dry or moist compared to indoor humidity to adjust its level.
Humidifiers and dehumidifiers
These are the most straightforward ways of dealing with humidity issues. Just purchase one and put it to work. The main issues of running these machines is the fact that they can be quite expensive, especially if you live in a big house, and they also require regular maintenance.
Comfortable Levels of Humidity
Now that you know humidity’s effects on your life and furniture, and you know how to manipulate it, it’s time to understand the level of humidity you should strive for.
The answer is: it depends on the temperature. Why? Because we are dealing with relative humidity, which as you know by now is how much water vapor is in the air compared to the maximum amount it can carry at the given temperature.
The warmer the air, the more vapor it can carry, so the higher the temperature, the higher humidity can be. However, there is no need to complicate matters.
As long as indoor humidity is between 30 and 50%, you’ll be fine. Yes, the colder the temperature, the lower it should be, but it doesn’t really matter, just keep your house’s humidity between these two values.
What happens when humidity is too low?
Low humidity is a big issue for our body. It makes us more prone to ilnesses, and it can also ruin objects made of wood inside our homes.
Here’s a full list of effects:
- We are mostly made of water, and dryness doesn’t work well with low humidity. Our skin and hair dry up when humidity is too low, making us feel extremely uncomfortable
- It’s also dangerous for our respiratory system, as the mucus in our nose can dry up, exposing us to respiratory illnesses like colds
- Have you ever felt a painful, yet small electric shock when touching metallic surfaces? That happens because, when humidity is low, static electricity doesn’t disperse through air’s moisture, meaning it charges up in your clothes and body. You release the built-up electricity when you touch the metallic surface, causing the small electric shock
- Wooden furniture doesn’t like low humidity. It will bend and crack, and if you are a musician, you’ll also notice that your instruments fall out of tune much quicker than in muggier climates. This is especially noticeable with pianos and guitars
What Happens When Humidity Is Too High?
High humidity is arguably even more dangerous than low humidity, since it could lead to heat strokes, and death in most extreme cases. It’s also more dangerous on your health as a whole, since high humidity gives way to mold and other dangerous spores to proliferate and infect your house.
Let’s see the issues brought by high humidity more in depth:
- You feel exhausted and lethargic, even if you aren’t necessarily doing anything so tiresome
- Poor sleep, which exacerbates the grogginess
- Your body loses its natural ability of cooling itself. This can lead to heat strokes, or even heart attacks
- Mold and dust mites start appearing around your house, since they thrive in environments with high humidity
Humidity is one of those things you always forget about and that can have a huge impact on your life. In this article, you have learned how to recognize if your house is having high or low humidity, how to recognize its effects on your body, and how to manipulate it.
The most important thing is keeping yourself safe. Avoid extreme humidity as it can lead to heat stroke. Don’t treat the matter lightly just because it doesn’t feel important.
Measure your house’s humidity with a hygrometer, then take the necessary step to influence indoor humidity until it reaches optimal levels, and enjoy higher quality of life.