Although we usually talk about humidity in terms of scorching summer temperatures, humid conditions make hot days feel hotter and cold days feel colder. For homeowners struggling with humid interiors, that makes humidity a year-round problem rather than a seasonal one. Luckily, this problem has some affordable solutions that make it easy to solve, such as installing inexpensive window blinds all by yourself.
What can humidity do to you and your home? All sorts of unpleasant things if it goes unchecked. These include:
- Making you feel overheated or chilled
- Creating dampness on upholstered furniture and carpeting
- Forming condensation on exterior windows and doors
- Growing mold and mildew on ceilings, walls, furnishings and accessories
- Developing a musty smell that’s hard to shake
- Harming your health by worsening any existing allergies and making it harder for you to breathe
- Increasing your energy bill by making you raise or lower the thermostat to compensate for the humid “real feel”
Whether you’re troubleshooting a moisture issue in the depths of the Dog Days or the Winter Solstice, these six solutions for humid areas inside your home will help you handle them.
Schedule an HVAC Service
Regular maintenance is essential to keep the expensive systems in your home functioning at peak efficiency. If you live in a humid climate, maintaining your air conditioning unit is a must-do.
Why? Because an AC unit doesn’t magically pump cool air into your house. Part of its job is to make the air in your home feel colder by taking moisture out of it. Lots of moisture—aka high humidity—means that your HVAC unit is working overtime, all the time. This can lead to a busted unit when you need it most.
Upgrade the Vent Hood in Your Kitchen
That vent hood in your kitchen isn’t only there to clear away the smoke from failed cooking experiments. While ventilation systems, including hoods installed over cooking ranges and stovetops, do pull chemicals out of the air, they also eliminate excess moisture.
However, not all hoods are created equal. The ideal kitchen ventilation system is ducted, which means that it draws chemicals, smoke and moisture out of your cooking space and moves it outside the home. If you have a ductless hood over your stovetop, you have a ventilation system that removes things like grease and smoke but recirculates damp air back into your home. This can contribute to your high humidity problem.
Swap Out Your Window Coverings
If high humidity is an everyday reality, you’ll want to make some changes to your home accessories so that they’ll weather the interior climate better. Items like window shades made from fabric can attract moisture and hold onto it, making it a breeding ground for mold, mildew and other types of bacteria.
Durable bamboo blinds or faux wood blinds are affordable changes that will improve how your home handles humidity—and how that humidity affects your health. These materials are easy to clean and maintain, and they won’t be damaged by additional moisture in the air, either.
Check the Fan in Your Bathroom
Once upon a time, it was okay for builders to vent bathroom exhaust fans into attic spaces. Nowadays, though, it’s a big no-no, though many still cut corners and do it anyway.
Pumping the moist air from your 30-minute steam shower can create an unbearable humid environment in your attic. This can create other problems that can slowly escalate, especially if you’re not frequently inspecting your attic for signs of humidity damage, like mold or mildew. It could also create condensation along your ceilings, which could then create extensive structural moisture damage that is expensive to fix.
Turn on Your Ceiling Fans
While fans won’t pull moisture out of the air like an air conditioning unit or ventilation system will, they do improve air circulation, and that helps, too. Moving air around prevents moisture from accumulating in one specific area. It also helps wet spots and condensation dry more quickly, which can be a boon for everything from your windows to your furniture.
Bonus: Ceiling fans are an easy way to decrease your energy costs. The same air circulation that helps your home handle humidity also makes heated air feel warmer and air-conditioned air feel cooler without requiring you to mess with the thermostat.
Install a Dehumidifier
A whole-house dehumidifier is an expensive solution for high-humidity homes that we recommend when nothing else will get the job done. However, if you’re dealing with excessive moisture in specific areas of your home, a portable dehumidifier works well and requires a much smaller investment.
These dehumidifiers have built-in hygrometers, which measure the amount of humidity in the air. You can program the appliances to turn on when your room reaches a certain humidity level. They can be set up to drain automatically into a sink or bathtub. Or, you can choose one that holds the water it pulls out of the air and empty it yourself periodically.
How to Find Out If Your Home Is Humid
Luckily, it’s easy to figure out if you have a high-humidity home. All you need is an indoor hygrometer. Some thermostats already measure humidity levels, so check to see if you already have this tool in your arsenal. If not, you can pick one up for less than $20 at a local hardware store.
Note that even if you’re struggling with humidity in certain areas, like a bathroom, basement or addition, a portable gauge will help you see exactly where your problems are and how severe they might be.
You do want to have some humidity in your home. If you’ve ever had a nosebleed during the winter, you know all too well that not enough humidity can be just as bad for you as too much. The ideal amount of indoor humidity is around 45 percent. Under 30 percent means your home environment is too dry, while over 50 percent means your home is too humid.