Balanced humidity is a key ingredient for creating a healthy and comfortable environment within the walls of your home. In general, humidity is defined as the amount of water vapor in the air. It is most often referred to as a measurement of ‘relative humidity’.
It is important to understand the concept of relative humidity as it can directly correlate with allergy problems, house and building damage, the presence of pests and your overall comfort level.
Indoor humidity that is either too high or too low can cause problems for your health and your home. When the indoor relative humidity is below 30% the air is extremely dry, this increases the likelihood of the spread of cold and flu viruses.
Air that is too dry can also irritate and inflame nose and respiratory passages, dry out skin, and wreak havoc on the foundation of your home. It can cause walls and ceilings to crack, wood floors to separate, and door and window frames to shrink.
When the relative humidity is above 50% the air becomes damp and moist. Airborne allergens such as mould spores, dust mites, and bacteia can thrive and multiply quickly, aggrivating the symptoms of allergy-sufferers.
Excessively humid environments are also desirable breeding grounds for cockroaches, termites, and other annoying pests. Excessively high humidity can spawn musty odours, accelerating wood rot and decay, stain ceilings and walls, and cause paint to flake and peel.
In mathematical terms, relative humidity is the gram-per-cubic-meter measure of the water vapor in the air divided by the gram-per-cubic-meter measure of the maximum amount of moisture the air can hold at the current temperature (also known as saturation, or 100% relative humidity).
A relative humidity of 100% means that the air is completely saturated. This is known as dew point.
The dew point is the temperature to which air must be cooled to become saturated with water vapor. When further cooled, the airborne water vapor will condense to form liquid water (dew). When air cools to its dew point through contact with a surface that is colder than the air, water will condense on the surface.
Digital humidity gauges called hygrometers can quickly give you an accurate reading of the current humidity level in your home.
To avoid the air quality and comfort problems inherent with extremely low or high relative humidity, ideally the relative humidity in a home should fall between 40 and 50%. This means that the surrounding air is holding only half of the maximum amount of moisture it can retain.
At this level, dust mites cannot survive, mould spores cannot reproduce, and household pests, which prefer to live in highly humid environments, are driven away. The air is moist enough so as not to irritate your skin, throat and breathing passages… as well as weaken the physical foundation of your home. This moisture level also lessens the risk of foundation problems related to high humidity.
Both dehumidifiers and humidifiers can help you monitor and maintain an optimal level of indoor humidity year-round. They allow you to easily maintain the right level of relative humidity in your home. Models equipped with built-in humidistats that can be controlled digitally and/or manually help you quickly adjust the relative humidity level to suit your needs.
Dehumidifiers absorb excess moisture in overly humid air.
Humidifiers inject moisture into very dry air.
Maintaining the right relative humidity can make all the difference in curbing symptoms in an allergy-prone household and in keeping critters at bay. This simple practice will also help to ensure the quality of your home’s foundation while making your family feel healthy and comfortable indoors.
Visible mould in the home is a problem, however most of the toxic mould floating around our air is invisible to the naked eye. Thermography inspection can be used to identify problems in the home.
Thermal image courtesy of Intec Thermographics:
Intec Thermographics provide home inspection surveys and reports for domestic and commercial properties.
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