T he issue with high humidity indoors is not to be taken lightly as aside from discomfort that you feel almost instantly, sweating more and generally feeling a decay in your well-being in a damp environment, there are other repercussions to take into consideration as well, like mold development and compromising of the building’s structural integrity.
Luckily, maintaining proper indoor humidity isn’t difficult, regardless if you are dealing with low moisture that you can quickly solve with a humidifier or high humidity that you can fix using any of the methods that we will provide in the following. Let’s not waste time and move on to learn a bit more about indoor humidity and what actions you can take to lower it.
What Is a Good Indoor Humidity Level?
The answer differs depending on the source, the EPA recommending that humidity be kept within 30% to 50%, while the majority of scientists recommend that you aim for 40% to 60%. There’s the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers that recommends 45% to 55%, a much stricter range to abide by. Seeing how all three sources are more than reliable, let’s compromise and establish that as long as the hygrometer displays moistness ranging from 30% to 60%, you are safe from issues created by both low and high RH levels.
Is high humidity bad for your health?
Yes, there is an extensive range of adverse effects that high humidity can have on the human body, the general feeling of lethargy and low energy you have during summer being in direct connection to unnatural moisture levels in the air. Damp air contains too much water vapor, and seeing how we rely on air to expel the sweat on our skin, as the moisture-filled air doesn’t allow this but rather adds more wetness on our bodies makes us feel even hotter.
Hyperthermia is a condition to which you become susceptible in high humidity, the inability of your body to cool down causing it to overheat. This, in turn, leads to a series of other health repercussions, including dehydration, fainting, muscle cramps, fatigue, and heat exhaustion. In the worst-case scenario, it results in heatstroke, a serious condition that needs to be treated urgently to not damage organs like the heart, kidneys, brain, or even lead to death.
Question: What are the signs of heatstroke?
Answer: Headaches, confusion, and vomiting are indicators that a person is likely having a heatstroke. In case these symptoms appear, seek medical attention on the spot.
What causes high humidity in the house?
Generally, bathrooms get very damp as vapors are released into the air when you shower, causing condensation. Kitchens aren’t all that better either as the meals you prepare can release excess vapors into the air. If proper venting isn’t set up, that water you boiled to make tea or that soup you enjoyed for dinner cause condensation to form. Gas heaters and drying laundry inside are just as bad, if not worse, producing high amounts of water that plagues the air. Of course, the area you live in is a source (say that you live in a coastal region or one with high rainfalls for most of the year), and you can’t do anything about it except to take action and reduce moistness in your own home.
What humidity grows mold?
When indoor moistness exceeds 65%-70%, expect for mold to appear regardless of the temperature indoors. The higher the temperature is and the higher the humidity gets, the mold development rate becomes considerably quicker as well.
Yes, regardless if you choose a desiccant or a refrigerant dehumidifier, the result is the same – lower humidity levels indoors. The system is designed for this specific purpose and no other, so all of its efforts are focused on trapping excess moistness so that the air expelled back into the room is dry. As long as you size it right to the area you will use it in, ensuring that it has sufficient moisture removing capacity per day and that area coverage won’t pose an issue, the dehumidifier is the fastest and most effective method to solving high humidity.
Should you leave a dehumidifier on all the time?
This is a common question related to dehumidifier use, and the answer is yes, there are no downsides to leaving it on. Most dehumidifiers have a humidistat anyway, so when your set humidity level is reached, they stop their operation automatically and restart only when it is needed, when moisture has exceeded your set parameters.
Which Is the Best Dehumidifier to Buy?
This depends on your specific needs, there is no exact answer. There are more than enough dependable dehumidifiers out there, but which is best in your situation depends on what you need for it to do exactly in terms of area coverage and moisture reduction efficiency per day. We can, however, recommend that you opt for the best the market has to offer depending on the area/type of application you intend to use it for. This means that you should acquire:
- Basement dehumidifier if you intend to dehumidify this larger and damper space in your home;
- Crawl space dehumidifier if you lack a basement but have a crawlway which is predisposed to excess moisture through its nature;
- Bathroom dehumidifier if you need a compact-size system that can handle the heavy moistness that generally accumulates in this room;
- Bedroom dehumidifier if you seek a silent yet a high-capacity system that preferably doesn’t flaunt a large footprint;
- RV dehumidifier if you want a unit powerful enough to wick away dampness in your mobile home;
- Commercial dehumidifier if you have a warehouse or a similarly large-sized space with extreme humidity levels to resolve issues in.
Use an Air Conditioner
First, let’s touch on the main operation of the system. Whether it is a window-mounted air conditioner or a portable AC, what both types have in common is that they pull in air, cool it, and recirculate it back into the room. Aside from cooling the area, the air conditioner provides dehumidification as well. However, as this isn’t its primary function, don’t expect it to be as prolific as a dehumidifier at the task. There are exceptions out there too, some more expensive models providing moisture removal similar to that of dehumidifiers, but they are still not as reliable in the long term for this task as they weren’t designed with a focus on this purpose.
How Does an Air Conditioner Dehumidify?
The AC uses a chemical refrigerant that is cold and flows through the coils. Aside from cooling the air, it absorbs heat from the surroundings, forming condensation that drips into a collection tray and is drained outside. As water is partially removed from the air that was pulled in, the cool air it releases won’t be as damp either.
How to Naturally Dehumidify Your House
- Use silica gel: You have likely already opened packaged goods that contained silica gel packs before as their moisture-absorbing efficiency makes them perfect for dampness prevention. It is estimated that 100 grams can absorb 25 grams of water before requiring replacement. What you can do is to put silica gel in areas where moisture accumulates so that the small balls absorb it (put them in places like drawers, cabinets, and closets).
- Improve air movement: While ideally, you should use a fan to circulate the air in the room and pull in dryer air from outside, if you don’t have one, cracking one or more windows open should suffice.
- Dry outside: If you don’t use a dryer but rather a clothesline to dry washed clothes, place it outside if you live in a house, or take it out on the balcony if you have one in your apartment. Seeing how a load is responsible for approximately 2 liters of moisture released into the air, it’s easy to see why drying indoors isn’t recommended.
- Let plants help out: While most plants are actually at fault for raising humidity, it’s not a valid statement for all of them. Some plants have a reverse action, reducing moistness. These dehumidifying plants include, among others, xerophytes, tillandsia, epiphytes, Boston ferns, peace lilies, and spider plants.
- Use charcoal briquettes: Place them in a bowl or wrap them in a towel that you leave in the room with excess moisture, and you will see quite an impressive difference in what the hygrometer indicates after a few hours. The added benefit with this natural dehumidification method is that, similarly to how activated carbon filters work, charcoal briquettes remove odors as well, making the environment more pleasant as the air is fresher too.
- The always dependable baking soda: A potent odor absorber, baking soda absorbs moisture as well, which is why you should put a bowl filled with it in the bathroom, on the kitchen counter, and anywhere else where you see that condensation forms.
As you can see, there are more than enough alternatives at your disposal to lower indoor humidity quickly and avoid high moisture repercussions on your health and the structural stability of the building. While dehumidifiers are, hands down, the most effective when it comes to dampness reduction, the air conditioner isn’t a negligible option either.
Of course, your best course of action would be to combine using both systems if summers get very hot and humid in your area as dehumidification isn’t the primary function of the AC, so it’s not that dependable when moistness is high. If none of these systems seem appealing to you, there are other methods you can use for dehumidification, so thankfully, there is a solution that suits everyone’s needs and preferences. In the end, it doesn’t count how you achieve proper RH levels indoors, you must upkeep moisture within 30% to 60% to avoid the negative effects had by both low and high humidity.