When the level of humidity in your home is either too high or too low, it can cause lasting damage to your property and potentially even put your health at risk. Low humidity is linked to the spread of viruses such as cold and flu. But high humidity, which we’re going to talk about in this article, creates excessive moisture that can all too quickly lead to dampness and mold.
- What is the link between household humidity, dampness, and mold?
- At what humidity does mold occur?
- What causes dampness and humidity in the home?
- How to get the best humidity level for your home
What Is the Link Between Household Humidity, Dampness, and Mold?
Household humidity refers to the amount of water vapor that is present in the air in your home. According to Energy Star, the optimum home humidity levels are between 30% and 50% to keep your home comfortable and maintain the air quality of your home. Anything above that range can lead to dampness that promotes mold and bacterial growth.
Mold is not usually a problem indoors because mold spores can only grow on wet surfaces. However, if you have areas of dampness in your home, then mold spores can land there and grow. Mold is a very serious issue to have in your home as it produces allergens, irritants, and even toxic substances called mycotoxins. Touching or inhaling the mold spores in the air can cause an allergic reaction. Some reactions include sneezing, coughing, red eyes, a runny nose, skin rash, and even asthma attacks.
But mold is not the only unwelcome sign of high humidity levels in your home. It can also cause damaged paintwork, peeling wallpaper, rotting floorboards and furniture, and even damaged brickwork and walls.
At What Humidity Does Mold Grow?
Mold can occur if the humidity of your home is 55% or more for long periods. Therefore, keeping your home humidity levels below 55% will prevent mold from growing. However, it’s not always as easy as that. Humidity levels can vary drastically from room to room, which is why it’s important to monitor humidity in various locations around the home.
The easiest way to measure the humidity levels in your home is to use a hygrometer, which is a simple and inexpensive device you can buy online or from most hardware stores.
What Causes Dampness and Humidity in the Home?
There are two main causes of dampness and humidity in the home: water that cannot escape and water that comes into your home. All that water has to go somewhere. If it can’t, and it’s allowed to build up, you’ll soon see the telltale signs of dampness.
Here are a few of the main causes of excess moisture in your home:
- Infiltration through the walls
In damp weather conditions, the tiny cracks inside the walls of your home can let the water filter through, which creates unwelcome indoor moisture.
- Daily household activities
Having a long, hot shower, slow cooking for hours, or even normal activities such as mopping floors can create moisture that causes condensation. If that condensation cannot escape, then it can create damp patches and eventually mold.
- Leaking water mains
Any small leaks that you might have in your house, such as dripping taps or a leaking dishwasher or washer, can create excess moisture that leads to dampness and mold.
- Your home is not well ventilated
In the winter months, we tend to keep our windows closed. That keeps the warmth in but does not let the water vapor from cooking, cleaning, tumble drying, and bathing escape. That moisture will find the coldest spot on your walls or windows to condense before pooling and creating dampness.
How to Get the Best Humidity Level for Your Home
The good news is that there are some simple steps that you can take to reduce the humidity levels in your home.
- Use a whole-home dehumidifier
Whole-home dehumidifiers connect directly to your HVAC system and automatically control the humidity levels in your home. They take moisture out of the air when it’s too humid (above 50%) to create a healthy and comfortable environment while protecting your home from damage.
Your whole-home dehumidifier should be placed in an area of your home with clear airflow around and through it. You should also empty the water tray when it’s close to full. Your local plumbing and HVAC team will be able to advise you on where to install a whole-home dehumidifier and do the work for you.
- Ventilate your home
Even in the winter months, you should make sure your property is properly ventilated. Using extractor fans, your air conditioning system, and opening windows (even if it’s just for a few minutes) will help keep humidity levels down. This is particularly important in the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry, where moisture is naturally present.
- Maintain a consistent temperature
Home humidity levels will cause you fewer problems if your home remains at a relatively constant temperature. That might not be easy when you’re out at work during the winter months, but even turning the thermostat down a little so you can keep the heating on for longer can help to reduce moisture levels and condensation.
So there you have it, everything you need to know about why humidity, dampness, and mold occur and the steps you can take, including using a whole-home dehumidifier, to keep it under control.