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Winter is in Full Swing—Are You Keeping the Humidity out of Your Home?

Condensation on windows from humidity indoorsWhen the winter months arrive, you might notice seasonal changes in your home such as condensation forming on the windows. Unlike other areas of the country, the Pacific Northwest tends to become more humid during the winter due to our famously wet weather. The ideal relative humidity level for a home is between 30 and 40 percent. As a result, heating Portland homes becomes an important task to keep homeowners healthy. Humidity levels below 30 percent will make a home feel uncomfortable and can cause wood items to dry. Relative humidity levels of higher than 50 percent promote mold growth, dust mite infestations, rot, corrosion, and water stains. By knowing how humid your home is and how to control it, you’ll keep your home and family healthy and keep the air inside healthy.

Signs of High Humidity Levels in a Home

  • Condensation forms on windows when temperatures drop
  • The house feels muggy, clammy or sticky
  • The home has a musty odor
  • You or a family member experience allergy symptoms while inside the home
  • Mold begins to grow on windows, around pipes, in the corners of walls, on the ceiling, or in the bathroom
  • Water stains on walls or ceilings

How to Reduce Humidity Levels in Your Home during the Winter

  • Identify the source of the moisture: Knowing why your home is overly humid will allow you to have a targeted approach to resolving the issue. Excess moisture may result from:
    • Poor or improper ventilation
    • Not using exhaust fans in the kitchen or bathroom
    • A leaky roof
    • A damp basement
    • Too many water-loving houseplants
    • An HVAC system that is not the correct size or needs repairs
    • The clothes dryer failing to vent outside the home
    • Storing freshly cut wood inside the home
  • Turn up the heat: Heating Portland homes in the winter helps keep excess moisture at bay. Because warm air holds moisture, your home should not be overly humid to begin with or you’ll turn it into a sauna, which will only compound the problem. Use dry heat and ensure adequate airflow when warming your home.
  • Use a dehumidifier: Dehumidifiers dry water out of the air, speeding up the natural evaporation process. The units come in a variety of sizes. They’re available as portable units that you can move from room to room and as fixed appliances that are part of an HVAC system. Dehumidifiers are particularly useful in basements, laundry rooms, bathrooms and other areas that have high humidity levels.A good type of dehumidifier to use is one with a built-in humidistat. A humidistat is similar to a thermostat, but it measures relative humidity levels in the area and signals a humidifier to turn on or off accordingly. Use a hygrometer to learn if a space is too humid or dry before purchasing equipment.
  • Improve ventilation and airflow: Use the exhaust fan as you cook so the moisture in your food doesn’t affect your home. Similarly, turn on the fan in your bathroom as you bathe and leave it on for another 30 minutes after you get out of the shower. If your washer and dryer cause windows to fog when they’re on, consider installing an exhaust fan in the laundry room. Also, ensure that the dryer vents the hot air outside.
  • Proper drainage: Keep your gutters and downspouts clear. Verify that the downspouts and landscaping direct water away from your home.
  • Change flooring: Some carpets retain moisture. Switching them out for solid flooring may reduce relative humidity levels.
  • Insulate your pipes: Exposed pipes inside your home may sweat. Insulate them to prevent sweating and to protect them from the cold weather.
  • Upgrade your windows: High-efficiency windows, such as double pane windows or those with an insulating film reduce energy exchanges during the winter, so they’re less likely to fog-up. Similarly, ensure the weather stripping and caulking around windows is in good shape.

A home is a large investment and maintaining it will reduce costly repairs and prolong its life. AAA offers dehumidifier and humidifier options for homes to ensure a healthy and comfortable living environment. Contact AAA today to schedule a consultation.

Photo by Sthetic via CC License