When the humidity in your home starts rising, you can start to feel like you're living in a sauna. The humidity gets too low and you start feeling the effects on our skin–it can feel like you've been stuck in a desert for a while. Either way, your health and your belongings can get damaged. That makes keeping the humidity in your home on an even keel important. Here's what you should know.
What does humidity do when it's too high?
Humidity is the term used for the amount of water being held in the air. A humidity reading of 70% means that the air is 70% saturated with water. If you think of it that way, it's easy to see why trying to breathe when the humidity is high can be difficult. Asthma sufferers or people with COPD can find it especially difficult. It can also be difficult for your body to cool itself, as it becomes harder for your perspiration to evaporate. High humidity, perversely, can also lead to dehydration. Your body's inability to cool itself leads to the need for more fluids.
Humidity can also wreck your home. Mold spores love humid weather and thrive in it. That can lead to an explosion of mold in your basement, vents, wood floors and even furniture. Wood can also soak up some of that extra moisture in the air, swelling and warping.
What problems come with low humidity?
Overly low humidity, when the air is too dry, saps the moisture from your skin and causes people with skin problems, like eczema, to suffer unnecessarily. Chapped lips and skin are common problems when the humidity is low. You can also suffer from dry nasal passages and nosebleeds, which actually makes it easier for pathogens to get into your body, making you vulnerable to colds, sinus infections, and the flu.
Just like high humidity, low humidity can cause problems in your house as well. It can cause damage in peculiar ways to the items you own. Glue in furniture joints can dry out and crack. So can the glue binding your books together. Even the pages get dry and brittle. Paint on your walls can also crack over time. If you have a wine collection, the corks can shrink and let the wine spoil.
How do you keep indoor humidity level?
Experts say that humidity should range between 30%-50%, with 45% being ideal. A simple device, called a hygrometer, can be used to find out where the humidity is at inside your home on any given day. If you have a relatively small living space, like a studio apartment, a portable humidifier or dehumidifier can be used to resolve the issue inside your home. Since humidity tends to be lower in the winter and higher in the summer, it may be necessary to switch between the two for optimal results.
For whole-home relief, consider talking to your air conditioning repair and HVAC service company about having a whole home humidifier or dehumidifier (or both) installed. A standard center humidifier costs about $500-$1050 installed. A central dehumidifier costs up to $2670.