How To Fix Problems Caused By Indoor Air Humidity

Wolseley PRO Pipeline Blog

Humidity is easy enough to measure inside a home, but not knowing how to control it does pose a problem for indoor air quality. Controlling humidity levels and responding to changes in the air keeps homeowners happy and healthy. When it comes to home comfort, it’s important for homeowners to understand indoor air humidity and the problems it can have. As a contractor, you can both educate your customers and provide solutions to help their family breathe easier. Here’s a few tips on how to talk to your customers about humidity and how to solve common problems caused by indoor air humidity:

Where Does Indoor Air Humidity Come From?

When talking to homeowners about humidity, you can begin a refresher on the term relative humidity. Relative humidity, usually referred to as humidity, is the measurement of the moisture of the current air, in comparison to the highest amount of moisture the air can hold at the temperature. While most people equate humidity to the outdoors, humidity also exists indoors.

Indoor air humidity is directly influenced by the weather outside and the activities that take place inside the home. For example, if it is a hot and humid day outside, your home may be bringing in some of that humidity through small cracks, doors opening and closing, and windows. Many natural activities in the home also involve the creation of humidity, such as taking a hot shower or cooking on the stovetop. In all these examples, warm air vapour mixes with cooler air and creates moisture within the air, creating a level of humidity.

When air becomes warmer than its current state, its relative humidity will decrease if there is no added moisture. This is because hot air holds more water than cool air. As a result, when air becomes cooler, the relative humidity often increases because cold air has less of a capacity to hold moisture.

That’s why homeowners find condensation collects on windows in the winter. The air inside is much warmer than the cool air that may be coming through the window, creating droplets of condensation. It can even happen with the transition from winter to summer because the ground and the house has not fully warmed up, so sometimes cool air inside meets the basement walls that are warmed from the outside and creates condensation on the wall.


Mold, Bacteria and Mites: Main Problems Caused By Indoor Air Humidity

The problem with indoor air humidity stems from the fact that all humidity contains moisture.

Of course, some moisture is needed to breathe comfortably and reduce irritations, but having too much moisture can result in mold, dust mites, and bacteria forming--three factors that contribute to poor indoor air quality. Too much mold and dampness can also cause throat irritation, breathing problems, worsening of asthma, and allergic reactions.

As the saying goes, too much of a good thing can be bad, but too little of a good thing can also be bad. When indoor air lacks humidity and the air becomes too dry, there are also health risks and home risks. In the winter if a house is too dry, it becomes a breeding ground for viruses. Some people also experience peeling skin, chapped lips, difficulty breathing and a scratchy feeling in the nose and throat. And let’s not forget the amount of static humans pick up from walking around the house, especially with carpeting and metal door handles.

Fixing problems caused by indoor air humidity is important for homeowners to live in a healthy and comfortable environment.

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How To Solve Problems Caused By Indoor Air Humidity

Solving the problems caused by indoor air humidity goes beyond controlling the atmosphere for mold, mites and bacteria to grow. It also means doing some inspections and preventative measures to ensure the stability of indoor air humidity. Here are the top three suggestions to help homeowners solve problems caused by indoor air humidity:

1) Inspect areas where there may be lurking moisture

The first step in your inspection should include a reading of moisture levels the home to see the current relative humidity level of the home, and what areas are more prone to moisture and humidity changes.

Be on the lookout for visual indicators of additional moisture leading to a rise in indoor air humidity such as leaky pipes, drafty windows, basement walls, foundation cracks, bathroom pipes, kitchen pipes, kitchen surfaces, furniture, and wallpaper. If any of these areas have moisture damage, it’s your responsibility to assess the damage and decide on a cleaning and reparation plan to rid the home of moisture where mold and bacteria have the potential to grow. This can be as simple as replacing a pipe but can be as extensive as suggesting window replacements throughout the home.

2) Talk to Homeowners About Home Ventilation Systems and Energy Efficiency

0137657_vencr12erv_v2_550Home ventilation systems and energy efficiency are important to solve problems caused by indoor air humidity. When installed correctly, ventilation systems are excellent at the exchange of indoor air and outdoor air. There are two notable types of ventilation systems: Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) and Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV). While both will remove hot, humid air from a home, an Energy Recovery Ventilator core will use the moisture in humid air and repurpose it into cool air. An ERV also works in reverse to remove cold air from a home and repurpose its moisture, pushing warm air back into the home. Homeowners tend to use ERVs because of added energy efficiency but also for humidity control.

You can shop ERVs and HRVs on Wolseley Express, including the Venmar CR12 ERV.

Learn more about ERVs and HRVs here.

3) Maintaining Ideal Indoor Air Humidity Levels

Another method used for maintaining ideal indoor relative humidity is by taking preventative and complementary approaches.

The ideal indoor air humidity level is between 30-55%. This range depends on the season and the type of climate your client lives in. On average in the summer, indoor humidity levels should be closer to 55%, and winter indoor humidity levels need to be closer to 30%. You can discuss with homeowners what their ideal levels should be based on their location. Sometimes, the range of humidity means there is a lack of consistency for indoor air, either by being too dry or too humid.

By educating homeowners on the use of humidifiers and dehumidifiers, they can be used in addition to the HVAC system to maintain ideal indoor humidity levels. For example, dehumidifers can be used during particularly muggy summer days to remove the humidity from the air indoors. On the other hand, humidifiers can also help, especially during Canadian winters, to introduce humidity back into the air in drafty homes and keep homeowners breathing easy.

By addressing the causes of humidity and repairing any problems in home ventilation and water leakage, you can help homeowners take control over their home’s indoor humidity levels.

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