If you are dealing with excess humidity in your home, then more serious issues may soon follow. Not only can excess humidity make your home feel hot, sticky, and uncomfortable, but it can also cause damage to your home and enable excessive levels of harmful pollutants to be produced within the home.
What Causes Excess Moisture?
Excess moisture in the home is caused by any number of factors related to the design of the home, insulation of the home and the house ventilation system. Houses located in humid tropical climates are more prone to excessive moisture than houses located in drier climate areas, however, activities conducted within the home (laundry, showering, internal heating etc) combined with poor insulation and thermal protection within the home will allow excessive moisture to build up within the home. The following rooms often create excess moisture:
Bathrooms – Long steamy baths and showers will introduce excess moisture into the air and a poorly oriented and ventilated bathroom (e.g. under powered or no extraction fan or windows not regularly opened) will result in the production and maintenance of excess moisture in the room which will lead to mould and mildew issues.
Kitchens – Cooking food and boiling water can release a lot of steam into the air along with food particles. Kitchens that have no extraction fan (or with a recirculating hood) or poor airflow (due to lack of windows or the kitchen space which is enclosed) can create a build-up of excess moisture.
Laundry – Washing and drying clothes can introduce a lot of moisture into your laundry area. Clothes dryers can release warm moist air, especially if the vents are clogged. While spills and drips from the sink or washing machine can add extra moisture to the room.
Other Rooms – Any rooms that are exposed to continuous rain, high outdoor humidity or constant shading are likely to contain extra moisture.
What Can High Humidity Levels Lead To?<
High humidity levels within your home can lead to a number of serious issues including:
Discomfort – Excess humidity can negatively affect air comfort and create a sticky unpleasant feeling. This isn’t just an inconvenience but can actually negatively impact your health. High humidity environments can result in low energy, lethargy, hyperthermia, and poor sleep.
Home Materials Damage – Excess moisture can cause wooden furniture, fittings, and flooring to rot. It can also cause damage to the roof structure, walls, and insulation.
Compromised Structural Integrity – In extreme cases, excess moisture can actually damage the structural integrity of your home. This is because when moisture and temperature levels in plasterboard, joists and studs fluctuate, they expand and contract excessively, which can lead to cracks in walls and joints. Structural damage can be extremely dangerous and costly to repair.
Mould and Mildew – Mould and mildew are microscopic fungi that thrive in moist, dark, and warm conditions. Mould can grow easily on fabric, cardboard, plasterboard, and soft furnishings. When inhaled, the spores can cause health issues such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rashes. In extreme cases, it can even lower the immune system and worsen respiratory conditions such as asthma.
Worsened Air Pollution – All homes contain some indoor air pollutants caused by off-gassing of chemicals (e.g. formaldehyde) from building materials and furnishings. A humid environment increases off-gassing, which leads to higher levels of indoor air pollutants. This can have a negative effect on health and cause health issues such as eye, nose and throat irritation, respiratory infections, headaches, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness. A humid environment is also more likely to harbor excessive dust mites that can cause allergies.
Increased Energy Costs – Houses with excess humidity can feel a lot hotter than those with normal levels. This can cause you to spend more money on cooling.
Does Ventilation Reduce Humidity Levels?
So, what is the solution to high humidity levels in your home? Targeted interventions such as clearing blocked vents on your dryer can help. However, the only effective way to improve humidity levels throughout your house is by ensuring there is proper ventilation. Ventilation has been shown to reduce indoor moisture levels, decrease the rate of mould and bacteria growth, reduce concentrations of airborne viruses, decrease allergic symptoms, and reduce the concentration of carcinogenic chemical agents while decreasing the indoor temperature and improving air comfort at the same time.
How To Improve Ventilation?
There are a number of ways to improve ventilation in your home.
Exhaust Fans – Exhaust fans are typically installed in the ceiling of the rooms (e.g. bathrooms, kitchens, and laundries) that produce the most moisture. A well-placed exhaust fan can make a significant difference to your home’s overall humidity levels and hotspots provided the air is extracted out through the roof and not into the roof space.
Open Windows – The simplest way to improve ventilation in your home is to open up the windows. The natural airflow is enhanced by turning on ceiling or pedestal fans.
Air Conditioner – Air conditioners do not just blow out cold air into the room. But they can also extract warm humid air and vent it outside. If your air conditioner has a dry mode, switch it on to improve humidity levels further.
Desiccant Dehumidifier – A standalone dehumidifying unit can be a great way to reduce humidity levels in a particularly damp room (e.g. cellar or a room without any windows). Desiccant dehumidifiers use substances such as silica or zeolite to attract and absorb moisture from the air by capturing the moisture within the unit so it can be removed.
Openable Skylights – Hot air rises, so what better way to remove warm humid air from your home than to install a roof window or openable skylight from the roof to the ceiling. This is a great option for rooms that do not have conventional windows. Roof windows and skylights also allow natural sunlight in, which can further inhibit mould and bacteria growth.
Ventilation System – A well-designed roof ventilation system can reduce the overall humidity levels of your home by extracting warm humid air out through exhaust/roof vents and replacing it with fresh dry outdoor air via intake vents. Roof vents can be ducted directly to an openable/closable ceiling grille within the room of concern to extract moist/contaminated air directly from the room.
This is the most comprehensive and effective solution to high indoor humidity levels and can work in combination with the other solutions.
High humidity levels can damage the structure and fittings of your house. Good ventilation is crucial to decreasing humidity levels in your home. If you are interested in a tailored ventilation solution, contact Calidad Industries today for more information.