It's almost here, winter and all that comes with it. As temperatures steadily drop throughout the fall and move into the winter, we make lifestyle adjustments. One of those adjustments means spending much more time indoors on average. We also are no longer opening up our windows to get some fresh, cool air. Indoor humidity problems affect, us and our homes in multiple ways, and we'll briefly explore the issues, the results, and what steps you can take to resolve them.
Low Indoor Humidity
The winter months can present different problems for different homes. Some homes are of loose or average "tightness". These homes may have leaky areas around windows, door frames, or other penetrations that may cause untreated air from outside or non-conditioned areas to enter the home. One of the most common seasonal issues in Wisconsin climate is a dry home. According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) relative indoor optimal humidity levels should be between 40-60%.
With dry winter air entering our homes for consecutive months it's not uncommon that we find home humidity levels dipping well below the recommended design levels. This may cause multiple environmental issues that include dried out hardwood flooring and wood furnishings, damaged artwork and musical instruments, and increased utility bills. In addition to the potential negative impacts to your home and possessions you may experience personal discomfort that includes dry skin, increased vulnerability to infections, dry nasal passages, chapped lips, unpleasant shocks from carpet or electronics and static cling.
High Indoor Humidity
Alternatively, a growing number of homes in Wisconsin are experiencing too much indoor humidity in the winter. These are typically homes that have been constructed in the past 10-20 years that are "tighter". One of the goals of a "tight" home is to achieve higher energy efficiency levels. The bi-product of the tight home in some cases is excessive moisture through out the year especially in winter when the temperature and relative humidity outside are at their lowest points. A common symptom in winter is windows that have significant amounts of surface moisture build up. Aside from being a nuisance to deal with excessive moisture is also damaging to your windows, window frames, and many other building components. Just as with too little humidity there are negative health effects that can arise from an environment that is consistently exposed to excessive humidity.
What Can I Do About It?
If you feel you are experiencing many of the common effects of low humidity or excessive humidity you may want to track your indoor humidity levels daily for a few weeks or longer by using a digital indoor humidity monitor which can be found for as little as $8-10 to find out how your home environment reacts to the winter season. Whole home de-humidifier and humidifier solutions with the appropriate controls, as opposed to single room solutions, have the ability to "sense" how the outdoor conditions are changing and adjust your indoor environment appropriately. If you find your humidity levels to be problematic, solutions are available to reduce or eliminate these indoor environmental issues. If you have these issues in your home call our team of indoor environmental professionals to assist you in finding a solution that works for you and your budget.