Humidifying and Dehumidifying in the Home
Are you finding spots of mold in your home? Are you getting sick of that musty or mildew-y smell? Are there rooms in your home that just feel too damp and muggy in the summer, or too dry during the winter? The amount of moisture in your home’s air can quickly affect your body temperature, your respiration, and the general temperature and feel of the air in your home. Depending on your home’s specific needs, the addition of a humidifier or dehumidifier can make a big difference as far as health, cleanliness, and comfort go.
While humidity and basic comfort levels vary by location, the humidity level in most homes usually falls somewhere around 20% (which is relatively dry). This figure represents the percentage of the maximum amount of moisture the air is able to contain. If inside air becomes too humid (containing more water), it’s easy for mildew and mold to grow, especially in places where moisture tends to collect. If the air becomes too dry, excess static electricity can build up, and the dry air can dry up skin, and irritate the inside of the nose and sinuses. A nosebleed is more likely to happen when someone has been breathing in cold, dry air. Overly dry air can even make some wooden building materials, such as hardwood floors, become more brittle over time.
Humidifiers are devices that add moisture to the surrounding air. While humidity needs vary by location and climate, humidifiers are most commonly used in homes and buildings that have 35% humidity or less. The use of a humidifier can help moisten dry skin and makes the air less likely to irritate nasal passages and sinuses. Many people find that a humidifier helps them to breathe better as they sleep.
Dehumidifiers are electronic devices that—you guessed it—remove moisture from the air by collecting it. In rooms that are poorly ventilated, or where moisture collects more than in other rooms, a dehumidifier can improve the air quality and reduce the likelihood of mold growth by regularly filtering moisture from the air. In the summer, the use of a dehumidifier can actually reduce air conditioning costs by making the air feel less muggy and sticky to people inside the home. When a dehumidifier removes most of the moisture from the air, the home’s air conditioning system does not have to work as hard to maintain a cooler temperature. Additionally, the reduction of humidity in the air helps people inside the home cool off more easily, as sweat is allowed to evaporate off the body more quickly.
Humidifiers and dehumidifiers may be stand-alone units that can be placed in any room, or may be built-in to a home’s air conditioning and heating system. Many modern HVAC systems also have humidity sensors that allow the homeowner to monitor their home’s humidity level in real-time. Most stand-alone dehumidifiers have a water collection bin that must be periodically emptied as moisture is collected.
If the humidity level in your home doesn’t feel right, consult your Central Arkansas HVAC professional at Kennedy AC, who will be able to measure the moisture in the air and assess the best way to address the issue.