Maintaining the moisture in your home is a delicate balance; you want just enough so the air isn’t dry, but not so much that it provides an opportunity for molds and mildew to flourish. More than likely, your home already has some level of moisture control built in, but there are additional methods which homeowners can employ.

First, why is moisture control important? 

  • When your home has too much moisture, the high humidity levels can damage anything made of fabric, wood or metal including furniture, appliances, and carpeting. Your home itself is also made of wood and metal, so prolonged high humidity can damage your home’s structure as well.
  • Mold only grows on wet or moist surfaces.  Indoor mold growth can produce allergens and can cause asthma attacks in individuals who are allergic to mold.  It can also irritate eyes, skin, nose, lungs, and throat in everyone, whether they have allergies or asthma or not.
  • When air is too dry, your body and skin dehydrate quickly. Static electricity is drastically elevated, giving you those little zaps when you touch things.  It also dries out anything made of wood or fabric, which require just the right amount of moisture to keep from being damaged.

Keeping moisture at just the right level, around 30-50 percent, is important.  The best way to keep track of your humidity is with a humidity or moisture meter, which should be inexpensive and available at hardware stores.

How can you control your home’s moisture?

  • When it’s running, your air conditioner acts as a dehumidifier. Ensure it’s running at maximum efficiency by keeping it properly tuned up.
  • If your air is extremely dry in winter, use a humidifier to eliminate dry noses and static electricity. A whole-home humidifier eliminates any guesswork about proper levels. This also helps your home feel warmer, allowing you to use the furnace less.
  • For a home with any damp space, such as a basement or crawl space, a dehumidifier should be used, especially during the hottest months. Install a whole-house dehumidifier to protect every room, not just those with the highest levels.
  • Ensure your home’s balance between proper ventilation and proper air sealing is correct. This means venting dryers, oven fans, and dishwashers to the outdoors and using bathroom fans every time you bathe. Seal all doors and windows properly to keep moist air outside in the summer, inside in the winter.
  • If there aren’t vapor barriers in crawl spaces, attics, or basements, install them.

We don’t often think of the air inside our home as being something that can ruin furniture or cause health problems.  The good news is that moisture is something that is easily monitored and controlled.

Sources:
energy.gov/energysaver/energy-saver