The most common complaint in our area every summer is not the heat, but the humidity. Some days, it seems like you have to swim to move outside! High humidity, specifically in the 60 percent range and beyond, has a number of unfortunate effects, including but definitely not limited to:
- Stale-feeling air
- Hair that can’t stay put, no matter what you do
- An increase in the relative temperature (meaning humid air at 80 degrees feels much hotter than dry air at 80 degrees!)
While all of these problems can definitely be frustrating, there are other, more serious problems that can arise due to high humidity levels: specifically, potentially harmful mold growth. Warm, damp environments are breeding grounds for mold and dust mites, which can trigger problems ranging from allergies to asthma attacks, eye, nose, and throat irritation, and a variety of other respiratory problems. People at the greatest risk include children, the elderly, and those with preexisting respiratory conditions.
Lowering Humidity in Your Home
To keep mold and mildew out of your home, make sure your humidity levels stay consistent between 45 and 55 percent. You can do this in a couple of ways. The first is to make sure your home stays properly ventilated. This doesn’t mean keeping windows open, mind you—that would let humid air in from outside! Instead, make sure you have exhaust fans installed in your kitchen and bathroom, which are the areas in your home most likely to have the highest humidity problems. For added protection against humidity, a mechanical ventilation system installed in your attic can help facilitate the flow of air in and out of your home to further reduce humidity levels.
Another way to reduce humidity is to keep your air conditioner well maintained. As air flows through your vents, it passes over the cold evaporator coil and deposits moisture onto the coil, which is blown off and through a condensate drain. Problems with your AC can prevent this dehumidification, and can lead to problems like a frozen AC coil. Many modern air conditioners also have a “dry mode” that allows them to run as dehumidifiers without cooling, which can help keep humidity out of your home even when you’re not there.
Where does humidity come from?
In addition to being ever-present in outdoor air, humidity comes from a variety of places inside your home, including:
- Taking hot showers and baths
- Doing laundry
- Washing dishes
- Watering plants with exposed soil
Does this mean you should stop doing all these things? Of course not. Mold and mildew colonies need anywhere from 24 to 48 hours of sustained moisture and temperature to begin forming, so as long as your AC is running properly and your home is adequately ventilated, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem. That said, you should have any and all leaky pipes fixed, as this can be another source of humidity that you need to watch out for.
At Michael Bonsby HVAC & Plumbing, we want everyone to be able to stay comfortable and safe in their homes this summer. If you’re having humidity problems in your home and you need air conditioner repair or air conditioner maintenance, call us today!